Did someone say Brazilian Storm?
Brazil has become a surfing force of late, from the holy trinity of Medina, Toledo, and Ferreira to up comers like João Vitor “Chumbinho” Chianca; the future is bright.
So who started this epic run of surfing success in the late 2000s?
Let’s take a look at some of the faces that make up modern Brazilian surfing and some of the icons that helped get it to where it is today.
15 Of The Best Brazilian Surfers In The World
We dive into the lives of some of the greatest humans ever to grace a surfboard and meet some of Brazil’s best surfers.
Gabriel has to sit at the top of this list as the first world champ hailing from Brazil. He is undoubtedly one of the best surfers ever to compete, and he shows no signs of slowing down at the start of the new 2023 season.
Hailing from São Sebastião, Gabriel holds the honour of being the first Brazilian to win on the world tour, making him a hero in his home country.
He matches a lethal backhand snap with some of the most progressive aerial surfing we’ve ever seen in competition.
This combo has made Gabe a dominant force on tour and led to his three world title wins in 2014, 2018 and 2021.
He’s been backed by Rip Curl for most of his career and rides world-renowned shaper Johnny Cabianca’s boards.
Adriano De Souza
Adriano de Souza, also known as “Mineirinho,” is a world-famous Brazilian professional surfer born in São Paulo in 1987.
He won the ISA World Junior Championship in 2003 before going on to join the then ASP world tour, and in 2015 he became the first Brazilian male to win the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour.
In 2008, he won his first WCT event at the Billabong Pro in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa and 2011, he won the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia, and went on to win the event again in 2013.
De Souza is a standout at the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii, considered one of the most challenging waves in the world.
In 2011, he reached the final and finished runner-up to Kelly Slater, and in 2015, he won the event, securing his World Championship title.
In 2016, he was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Action Sportsperson of the Year.
Adriano’s competitive career has been marked by consistent excellence and a passion for surfing that has inspired fans worldwide.
He is a true legend of Brazilian surfing and a role model for aspiring surfers from all over Brazil.
Italo Ferreira is currently one of the top Brazilian surfers in the sport, with only Gabriel and Felipe able to match his radical and unique surfing style.
Born in Baia Formosa, a small town in the northeast of Brazil, Italo has been honing his skills at his local right-hand point since the age of eight years old.
With a good but not outstanding junior career, tour veteran Jadson Andre first noticed Italo’s raw talent and touted him as a future threat.
And Jadson was right, at the age of 23, Italo won his first Championship Tour event in Portugal in a wild and windy final against Filipe at Supertubos.
The heat saw the two go blow for blow with giant aerials, with Italo just coming out on top.
In 2019, Italo reached the pinnacle of the surfing world by winning the WSL World Championship and realising his childhood dream.
Since then, he’s been a consistent performer on the tour, finishing in the top 10 for five consecutive years.
As a goofy Italo is one of my favourite surfers to watch full stop, his unpredictable style always makes for edge-of-your-seat viewing during heats.
Tatiana Weston Webb
Tatiana Guimaraes Weston-Webb dos Santos is a Brazilian/Hawaain shredder making waves on the world tour.
Born in Brazil to a Brazilian mother and a British father, Tatiana quickly moved to and grew up in Hawaii, positioning herself perfectly next to some of the world’s best waves.
She burst onto the international surfing scene at a young age and quickly became known for her powerful carves and aggressive style.
She took home the US Open of Surfing in 2016 and has been a consistent top-10 finisher since she joined the prestigious WSL circuit.
Tatiana’s no academic slouch either fluently speaking three languages: Portuguese, English, and Hawaiian.
She’s involved in several charitable organizations, including the Mauli Ola Foundation, which helps children with cystic fibrosis experience the healing power of the ocean.
Caio Ibelli famously beat John John Florence several times when he first stepped onto the competitive circuit, quickly solidifying himself as a threat in the water.
Right now, he’s killing it on tour with some impressive barrel riding at the Rip Curl Pro in Peniche and well above the half-year cut, securing his place next year.
Caio has always flown a bit under the radar, but he’s sneaky good, especially in waves of consequence and massive barrels, and I’m betting we see at least a top-10 finish by the end of this year’s season.
Caio actually spent the start of his life in the city, over two hours from the coastline. He first got on a surfboard at the well-known surf haven of Ubatuba, where his family would take trips at the weekend.
When Caio’s dad saw his son’s skills in the ocean, he upped and moved the family to Guarujá so Caio could train properly, and the move paid off with a 2011 win at the ever-prestigious World Junior Championships.
Silvana was one the best female aerial surfers of her generation. Back when women’s surfing was typically reserved to the face of the wave, Silvana was consistently attempting and nailing airs in heats.
She grew up in a poor fishing village in northeastern Brazil, where she started surfing at 7.
Silvana first began by using a piece of driftwood as her first board, and it wasn’t till she was 14 that she got her hands on a real PU surfboard.
Silvana quickly made a name for herself in Brazil’s competitive surfing scene, winning multiple national championships and becoming the first Brazilian woman to qualify for the WSL Championship Tour in 2006.
Her time surfing hasn’t been without its challenges. Silvana is one of the few openly gay surfers in a very Catholic country which can make life hard, but despite this, she’s still used her position as a spokeswoman for LGBTQ rights.
She was vocal about her struggle for sponsorship and how global surf brands often opted for beauty over skill.
Despite her consistent top-five finishes, she eventually had to stop competing due to a lack of a major sponsor, but it was great to see her as a wildcard this year at the Oi Rio Pro 2023.
Brazillian surfer Filipe Toledo is a world-class ripper known for his lightning-fast speed and the ability to land some of the most difficult aerial manoeuvres in the sport.
He grew up in Ubatuba, a small town in Brazil, and started surfing at a very young age under the tutelage of his father and coach, 2x national champion Ricardo Toledo.
*Interesting fact – You always know when Filipe’s in the ocean because of Ricardo’s distinctive whistle that he uses to help his son identify incoming sets and get his positioning right in the line-up.
Filipe burst onto the international surfing scene in 2012 when he won the US Open of Surfing as a wildcard.
I watched this play out on the webcam, and it felt like everyone played catch-up to Toledo the whole event; I can still remember the sprayed underside of his board there were so many airs!
Since then, he has become one of the most dominant surfers on the WSL Championship Tour, winning multiple events and finishing in the top 5 of the rankings for the past five years.
This hard work all played off in 2022 when Filipe earned himself the golden jersey and secured his spot in the surfing hall of fame with a coveted world title.
Filipe’s surfing style is characterized by his speed, power, and aerial creativity, which often earns his heats the nickname “Toledo Show.”
Off the waves, Filipe is also a dedicated family man and often shares photos and videos of his wife and children on social media.
Filipe now lives with his family in San Clemente, where he can hone his already lethal surfing on the perfect walls of Lowers and the surrounding surf spots.
Quite possibly the most likeable character to have joined the world tour, Jadson, more often referred to as ‘Jaddy’, is the owner of one of surfing’s most infectious smiles.
His happy-go-lucky attitude and high-octane style perfectly match the tour, and he’s best buds with another Brazillian surfing phenom, Italo Ferreira.
His path on tour hasn’t been an easy one, he’s fallen off and requalified several times, and he’s currently injured, but the tour really wouldn’t be the same without him.
Neco Padaratz is a former Brazilian professional surfer and childhood prodigy who had a successful career on the WSL Championship Tour in the early 2000s.
He was born in Santa Catarina, Brazil, alongside his older brother and training partner Flávio Padaratz.
It didn’t take long for him to get noticed by global surf media, which was unusual for a Brazilian surfer at the time.
He even gained the affectionate nickname “Kid with Man Head” from surfing legend Derek Hynd.
Neco made his mark on the competitive surfing scene in the late 1990s, winning several national championships in Brazil and quickly rising through the ranks of the then ASP Championship Tour.
Neco’s proudest moment in his surfing career was beating Andy Irons to take home the title at the 2002 Quiksilver Pro France.
But Neco’s career wasn’t without drama.
In 2006, the ASP tour banned him after a drug test revealed he’d been taking performance-enhancing anabolic steroids.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, he even had a run-in with Hawaain surfing legend Sunny Garcia during a heat at Pipeline in 2007.
The two got tangled in the water, and an angered sunny punched out Neco’s fins, chased him up the beach and watched menacingly as he was escorted away by a local police escort (not something you see in today’s comps that’s for sure!).
While Neco is no longer competing professionally, he remains a respected figure in the surfing community and is remembered for his impressive career and equally impressive headlines in surf media.
Another one of my favourite surfers to watch (I know, goofy bias), Yago Dora, is said to be the most stylish Brazilian surfer on tour, and it’s hard to disagree.
From his perfectly timed snaps and carves to his graceful rotations, it’s hard not to love this guy’s approach to surfing a wave.
Like many others on this list, Yago was blessed with surfing running through his veins; his dad Leandro Dora was a highly skilled pro surfer in his day and now acts as his mentor and coach.
Despite an impressive run of results and a long line of 3rd’s Yago is yet to win his maiden CT event. He regularly finishes in the top 10, and it’s only a matter of time before we see this guy getting chaired up the beach.
*Update: Yago just won the 2003 Oi Rio Pro securing his first CT victory against Ethan Ewing and managing to score a perfect 10 in the final for a massive air 360!!
Márcio Freire was a big wave surfing legend and all-around waterman who sadly died while tow-surfing Nazare in January this year.
At 47, Márcio was a pioneer of big wave surfing around Brazil, taking on massive walls of water that would terrify most humans into staying on land.
He was famously featured in the 2016 documentary Mad Dogs, which followed a crew of three committed Brazilian chargers on their journey to paddle surf Jaws, one of the world’s biggest waves.
Jesse Mendes is a talented Brazilian surfer who’s made a name for himself, battling out with some of the best surfers on the world stage.
With a string of impressive performances on the Championship Tour, Mendes was a force to be reckoned with during his time on tour.
Recently Jesse has taken up a role on the WSL commentary team, and his intrinsic understanding of modern surfing is a real breath of fresh air.
William ‘Panda’ Cardoso is a lump of muscle, and you sometimes wonder how he manages to shred in even the smallest of conditions.
Born in Florianópolis, Brazil, Cardoso’s aggressive style and powerful hacks quickly set him apart from other surfers.
He took his skills to the then WQS and spent many years battling out with the hundreds of other surfers from around the world who wanted their shot in the big leagues.
After some great wildcard and injury replacement showings, William made it on tour full-time in 2018, going on to win the Ulawatu Pro against Julian Wilson in head-high waves.
He struggled the following year and didn’t make the end-of-the-year cut, but his power on the face of a wave was undeniable.
Hailing from Itanhaém, São Paulo, Miguel and his brother Samuel Pupo are both weapons on a surfboard.
Growing up around other great Brazillian surfers like Gabriel meant that Miguel had a competitive streak from an incredibly early age.
I think Miguel’s strongest on his backhand, his sheer power and buttery flow make him truly unique to watch.
His biggest win came in 2022 when he took out the iconic (and sometimes terrifying) Outerknown Tahiti Pro.
Ricardo dos Santos
Ricardo do Santos was a Brazillian free surfer known for his skills in big barrels and waves of consequence.
He famously defeated Kelly at Teahupoo in 2012 and was honoured to receive the Andy Irons Award for pure determination in challenging waves.
Ricardo was sadly taken from us when an off-duty police officer shot him at his local beach.
The officer involved in the incident was found guilty of murder and is currently serving 22 years in prison. Thousands of fellow surfers and fans turned up to his funeral to celebrate the life of a true waterman.