Where the $#!% am I?

Surfing Magazine October 2012 Issue Trailer

Aug 2012
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Dave Wassel lands on the cover of Surfing Magazine’s October 2012 Issue. Watch the issue trailer below.


“What are you guys doing for your next issue?” asked a friend.

“Brazil,” I replied.

He laughed. I stared. He stopped.

“Seriously though…”

“I am serious. We’re doing a Brazil Issue.”

He wore a bewildered look, like a child who just learned the harsh truth about Santa Claus.

“But…why?” he asked.

Some stereotypes of Brazilian surfers: They’re loud. They’re abrasive. They’re aggressive in the water and their girls have great butts. Caipirinhas. They travel in packs and play soccer but call it football. Açaí. They’re one-trick ponies. Samba. They’re some arm-flailing, MMA-fighting, wave-claiming, passionate motherf–kers.

Some true. Some exaggerated. Some fading.

When I was growing up I’d hear friends, fresh from the North Shore, whine about the aggressive packs of visiting Brazilian surfers. And those returning from Indo spitting about a ruined session at HTs because a boatload of Brazilians stormed the lineup. Without ever surfing with a Brazilian, I was predisposed to dislike them. I wasn’t alone. The American surfer’s disdain for Brazilians may not be universally held, but it’s widespread.

Over the next 10 years I met many Brazilians. After losing a board at Todos Santos, photographer Flavio Vidigal picked me up on his Ski and took me to retrieve it. Three years later he let me stay with his family when I visited Brazil during Carnival. I met Carlos Burle and Maya Gabeira in Tahiti. To this day Carlos greets me with a hug and writes “My dear friend!!!!!” in emails. Maya would later become my housemate — while not always quiet, she was always clean. I met Danilo Couto, who, as Danny Fuller says, “Is the best thing to happen to Brazil since açaí.” I met some shitty Brazilians too, but no more than I met ugly Americans or Aussies.

And I also met Miguel Pupo, who visited the SURFING offices last year with a $30,000 gold spike in his pocket. He’d just won the 2011 Nike Lowers Pro and was on his way to Disneyland. He had a calm demeanor. He smiled easily. A few months later I’d do a one-page article on Miguel entitled “Brazilian 2.0,” in which Miguel said, “Sometimes I feel like when you show up to a competition people are like, ‘Ahh, he’s Brazilian. I don’t really like him.’ But after they talk to you, those things change.”

Maybe it’s a Slumdog Millionaire scenario, where every positive interaction I’ve had with a Brazilian was some mystical preparation to make a Brazil Issue of an American magazine. To give them the credit they deserve. Or maybe it’s a Paul Revere moment, where I ride my steed along the shores of Snapper Rocks, the Outer Banks and Trestles, warning the orthodox surfing community, “The Brazilians are coming! The Brazilians are coming!” To force the surfing world to pay attention — because they are serious competition now.

But they already know that the Brazilians are coming. Not quite here yet — Dave Wassel on page one is a perfect example of not quite; we were at a loss for a cover-worthy photo of a Brazilian surfer — but they’re coming. And negative connotations are softening, because hatred stems from ignorance and we are getting to know Brazilians. With so many of them speaking English, the language barrier has become the first domino to fall, and it’s helping to topple a long row of stereotypes. But hopefully not all of them. The Brazilians’ airs still boggle the mind. They still have gorgeous women. And I’m even starting to enjoy the claims they keep throwing, unapologetically, at the end of so many waves. —Taylor Paul

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