Higher-Power Surfing

Filipe Toledo won — just not at paint jobs. Photo: Corey WilsonFilipe Toledo, all thanks pointed upwards. Photo: Corey Wilson

When the great Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope after relentless Atlantic storms, coasting onto the calmer green seas of the Indian Ocean, he said that it was angels that guided the ship to safety.

Or when the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama finally spotted the coast of India, he claimed he’d seen the same shoreline in a dream as a young boy.

Or when Ferdinand Magellan found the icy strait between Chile and Argentina, he claimed that God Himself blew the wind into their sails on an otherwise windless day.

And in Round 1 in the post heat interview, after Gabriel Medina won the heat despite an interference early on, Rosy Hodge asked him how he did and Gabriel said, “…I trusted in God until the end; I just trusted. My mom and my dad had a dream last night saying that there would be something bad happening, so to watch out, and I think that was the interference…”

In Filipe’s Round 2 post heat interview, when Rosy gave him the chance to give his shout outs in Portuguese, he immediately thanked the Lord in three different ways.

Noticing a pattern here?

Rosy asks an American how they advanced and he’ll go on and on about his board, or rules of priority or getting a good night’s sleep. Rosy asks a Brazilian how they won? Friggin’ God, that’s why.

Now I’m not saying anything’s wrong with this overt advertising of belief. Nor, in explaining one’s heat-successes through dreams and extraordinary means, or omens, or magic or faith. Honestly, it’s kind of a welcomed explanation. It’s definitely more creative of an answer than: “Because the waves are just so fun.”

sherm day 5  14.jpgADS, pre-heat prep. Photo: Sherm

And the past two world champs, Gabs and Adriano, of distant-Portuguese-stock like the explorers of old, have been pretty vocal about their faith. At least when they win.

The fuck’s my point?

I think my countrymen need to start believing in something. No, not Jesus, the Brazilians got that covered. I’m thinking something unusual. Something Eastern. Cult-figure shit. Tom Cruise-scientologist shit. Santeria voodoo shit.

How caught off guard would Rosy be if in a post heat interview, she asked Nat Young what it was that turned around for him in the last five minutes and he said: “Well, I just kind of pointed my board’s nose toward Mecca and Allah took it from there.”

Now, I’m not trying to disrespect people’s deep religious beliefs…much. But there is something to be said (or commented on) in the differences we’re seeing the Top 34 articulate their triumphs in these events. The sacred vs the profane, the unexplainable vs logic, the visions and beliefs vs the secular.

American Tanner Gudauskas got a 10 and won his first round heat and it is said that he is part of a war-like tribe that worships positive vibes called the “PVW.” So maybe it’s already starting to work… –Beau Flemister