Miguel Pupo is soft spoken and funny. He has a crooked smile and flaunts it often. He is polite in the water and when he surfs, he carves turns and lofts airs that aren’t good for a Brazilian; they’re just good. Miguel, or Miggy, as he’s affectionately called by the surf community, is also smart, and speaks intelligently about where Brazilian surfing is today. —Taylor Paul
MIGUEL PUPO: In the past, Brazilians kind of suffered. Everyone was like, “Ah, you’re Brazilian, you’re like a monkey” or whatever. But right now we’re living in a different time. [Americans] are more friendly so we feel like we can talk to you guys. It feels good to go to you and say, “Hello. How are you doing?”
We’ve been working on English since we were like 10 years old because we knew English would help us. When you come out of the water people want to interview you, they want to ask you about your heat and about your life. So if you know the language you can talk and they can know you better. And you can communicate with the other guys on tour and make friends with them.
The guy that represents the transition between the past generations and this generation is Adriano. He was the first to start learning English and moved to California for three or four years. He kind of started the professional side of surfing that we had to do to become big names in the sport.
There are seven Brazilians on tour and there are hundreds of good guys in Brazil. We had to be aggressive because things were so difficult. When you have no sponsors, you’re fighting for heats because if you’re not the champion you’re not getting sponsors. So I think we’re aggressive because we need it for a living. I’m not saying [Australians and Americans] have everything, I know some may have had a hard life before surfing, but in Brazil, everything is just so difficult.
Our style… we’re getting better. I know we aren’t always that stylish, but we surf different because we have different waves in Brazil.
In contests, if you’ve already lost then you’re not thinking about yourself anymore, and if someone’s doing good we’ll be there for him because we want Brazil to win. We want our sport to grow and we want to support our friends. We want Brazil to get respect, we want people to say that we have good surfers and good styles and that we’re dangerous.