Toledo (pictured) being carried through the throng.
Toledo (pictured) being carried through the throng.

Filipe Toledo scores rare perfect 10 in final, cuts Sammy Pupo’s heart out and eats in front of rabid throng of countrymen for Oi Rio Pro win!

Most popular boy in Brazil!

The feeling Filipe Toledo must be feeling right now. Moments ago, the lithe Brazilian starlet dispatched Sammy Pupo in front of thousands upon thousands of screaming countrymen packing Saquarema’s sand to win the Oi Rio Pro. Shirtless, wet, bouncing up and down waving green and gold. Absolutely losing it.

Toledo did it in style, too, with a perfect 10 hoisted over the bouncy waves.

He sat in the water for a brief moment, after his victory, then began shouting, shouting, shouting until he arrived at the shore, was draped in that green and gold and continued his shouting.

Analysis of his performance will be forthcoming but for now the feeling, man. That feeling. The most popular boy in Brazil and, also, solidly number one in the world or at least the World Surf League. With his win, he sits 10,000 points above second place Jack Robinson heading into J-Bay, an event he has won before.

The “Final’s Day” at Lower Trestles has felt built for Toledo to come in third and take the crown. What if, this year, he has such a crazy, crazy lead at the end but loses to Italo Ferreira?

Well, let’s not think about that now.

Let’s enjoy the moment.

Comment live, finals day, Oi Rio Pro, “Brazilians are simply the better surfers!”

All Brazilian finals day in Rio! Italo, Pip, Sammy and Yago!

Mateus wins as gringo fan claims, “If the judges don’t act according to the crowd’s ask they wont be able to exit the judging tower at the end of the day, so no wonder the final 4 are brazos!!!”

“Gringo” and Brazilian surf fans spar in online war after “terrified” WSL judges eliminate Australian world title contender, “Prefacing the event with threats of violence and riots has worked well for the Brazzo fans!”

“Is it the surfers who have risen to the cheers of the Brazilian crowd or is it the judges who have been influenced by the Brazilian crowd."

Now that four Brazilians fill all semi-final spots in the Oi Rio Pro, it’s difficult to imagine that only one week ago threats of death and rioting cast an ominous shadow over the sparkling white sands of Saquarema.

If you’re coming in late, here’s the play: a few decisions had gone against Brazil’s heroes Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Filipe Toledo and that country’s fans were convinced it was a conspiracy, likely race-based, to kneecap the sport’s rightful stars, world champs Medina and Ferreira, and their understudy Toledo.

The hashtag #worldshameleague went viral and as the pressure built, fans stepped up the vitriol, calling for chaos at the tour’s next stop at Saquarema, as well as threats of violence should similar events occur there, ie, a Brazilian lost to a gringo.

“You have to make the biggest protest in history in Saquarema! Bring banners, balloons planes, boo all the time! Make them leave due to emotional stress!”

Saquarema fans already know what to do!!! Protest now!”

“Boycott! Prevent Saquarema!”

And, tellingly,

“I want to see if you guys will have the courage to continue this robbery in Saquarema.”

Well, well etc.

Ten seconds to in their round of 16 heat, Jack Robinson is in the same pozzy with Brazilian Mateus Herdy as he was with Italo at Bells, Gabby and Filipe at G-Land.

Against Italo, Medina, Pip, he does what needs to be done and clinically achieves number.

Outrage pours from the wounds of Brazilian surf fans.

The blood-letting stopped in Saquarema.

Even after commentators Peter Mel and Joe Turpel flouted their self-imposed convention and said icy-veined Jackie had squeezed enough blood from the bone, he was stiffed by one-hundredth of a point. 

“Prefacing the event with threats of violence and riots has worked well for the Brazzo fans!” said one gringo on the WSL’s Instagram.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by World Surf League (@wsl)

“If the judges don’t act according to the crowd’s ask they wont be able to exit the judging tower at the end of the day, so no wonder the final 4 are brazos!!!”

“What, no brozzo tears 😭 today? 😂😂 Hilarious.”

“Is it the surfers who have risen to the cheers of the Brazilian crowd or is it the judges who have been influenced by the Brazilian crowd or is it the WSL who has been influenced by the negative Brazilian social media crowd.”

And, beautifully,

“If these judges are scared of rioters… they’re whiter than I thought. Welcome to the world of real sports surfing.”

WSL judges narrowly avoid beach riot at Oi Rio Pro as arch-villain Jack Robinson loses to Brazilian following wildly underscored buzzer beater, “Uncharacteristically, Joe Turpel unequivocally stated his belief that Jack had achieved the score!”

"I’m convinced Jack Robinson feels he can bend things to his will, waves, judges, heats. But this time it wasn’t to be."

When the two Australian hangers on, Robson and O’Leary, had finally been dispatched, and we reached a conclusion that felt somehow inevitable from the outset, the first all-Brazilian finals day since 1963, some things became clear.

Firstly, and most importantly, it was clear why we’ve reached this point.

It’s not because there’s a home-field advantage, or that the fans are baying lunatics.

And it’s not because the waves are shit.

There’s no problem with the country or competition.

It’s not even god’s work.

It’s simply because Brazilians are the best surfers.

Toledo and Ferreira can final anywhere, as we know, but Sammy Pupo and Yago Dora look like they belong, too.

We know Dora is capable of excellence in any conditions. His competitive mettle might still be questioned, but he’s given a good account of himself so far, especially given recent injury history.

Sammy Pupo is still a little green, as all rookies are, but he looks as well rounded in skills as anyone, and perhaps has a tantalising mix of fire and composure.

Much has been made of the Brazilian camaraderie on Tour this year. Although this is hardly new, it does seem more potent than ever in producing hungry, competitive surfers with a clear groundswell of energy behind them.

Compare the situation of the Brazilian surfers to that of Nat Young and Jake Marshall, for example. By all accounts their main support network in Brazil is simply each other.

But it’s not just because we’re in Brazil that this energy is apparent among those in green and gold. All year long they’ve stayed together, trained together, eaten together, and supported each member of the pack when he breaks off to hunt down a heat victory.

It must be intimidating to go up against them when each is borne on a thrumming tide of support.

How else do we explain the career-best performances of the likes of Miggy Pupo and Jadson Andre?

My other recognition was just how much the WSL needs Brazil.

Surfing in Brazil is too important for the WSL to neglect. Moreover, the fans deserve better than surfers opting out with questionable injuries or visa issues.

In the absence of proof, these surfers should be fined going forward.

Why would you not go where the fans are? In sports, sometimes you just need to give people what they want. That’s part of your job.

The job looked tough today. It was a big playing field, as they say. Lots of water moving, as they also say.

Rippy, backwashy. Likely as hard to surf as it was to watch.

Lefts were all that was on offer but they were of dubious quality. Surfers struggled to find positions among shifting peaks.

It felt longer than a two-day lay off when proceedings began. It’s hard not to lose impetus when something is so stop-start, nevermind if that something is supposed elite sporting competition.

And if it’s hard for us as fans, imagine how the surfers feel.

How do you maintain a game-face over multiple days of being at a loose end?

I found myself wondering about ways to change it, ways to stop the athletes and fans becoming disengaged. Same conclusions as it ever was: a smaller field, and/or strike missions, and/or artificial waves.

The other option is to embrace what we have. Make something of it, make it a point of difference among other sports.

I confess to having no idea what this looks like. Hopefully not Kaipo doing adverts.

A man far more composed today was Jack Robinson, despite a round of 16 loss that could’ve gone either way.

Just 0.07 points separated him from Mateus Herdy when the 7.07 he waited for on the sand came in as a flat seven.

Given what we’ve seen from Robinson all year, I was ready to believe. Joe and Pete were, too. Uncharacteristically for Joe, he unequivocally stated his belief that Jack had achieved the score he needed right on the buzzer.

Robinson went through his routine. First he crouched with the board across his lap and his head bowed. Then he turned and walked, straight shouldered, towards the athlete area, before stopping and closing his eyes again, murmuring incantations.

I’m convinced he feels he can bend things to his will, waves, judges, heats. But this time it wasn’t to be. He was chillingly gracious and professional in his post-heat interview, accepting of the decisions and the result.

More uncertain was a scoring oddity that happened in the round of 16 match-up between Dora and Ewing.

Take note, conspiracy theorists

With about 21.43 left in the heat, Dora was awarded a 7.27.

Except a couple of seconds later the score magically changed to a 7.23?!

Go and watch it for yourself.

It made no difference to the outcome of the heat, and didn’t even shift things in the moment, but it was bizarre.

Filipe and Italo both marched through confidently from their heats today.

At some point, and to no-one’s surprise (except, clearly, him) Filipe was announced as having qualified for the final 5. It was an emotional moment (for him).

He cried, he prayed.

We shrugged.

Kaipo said his success is due to a “love bubble” around him.

I don’t know what he meant but it sounds gross.

As for Italo, twice today in interviews with Luisa, he was strange and shaky. The closest approximation I could make of his countenance was that of a junkie in the morning queue for methadone. He put it down to cold, saying he doesn’t like to surf in a wetsuit, but it was unnerving.

But he’s through, along with his brethren.

At the close of play today, as Yago Dora arrived on the beach, having vanquished the great white hopes of Callum Robson, the sun dipped, and Robson was reduced to a silhouetted head, floating in a blazing orange sunset.

A lone Australian, cast adrift as a sea of fans cheered his loss wildly from the shore.

The crowd chanted the seconds as the clock counted down.






And for once, it felt like a sport people cared about.

Italo (pictured) takes on Sammy Pupo in stacked semis.
Italo (pictured) takes on Sammy Pupo in stacked semis.

“Stunner in Saquarema” as Brazilian surfers miraculously sweep quarterfinals thereby guaranteeing green and gold champion, runner-up, etc. at Oi Rio Pro!

Peace for our time.

There was much worry, headed into Brazil for the World Surf League’s 8th championship tour stop, that riots would break out on the sands of Saquarema. El Salvador, completed just before the Oi Rio Pro, was marked with controversy as Californian Griffin Colapinto bested Filipe Toledo in the final.

Brazil’s “passionate” surf fans took to social media, en masse, in order to declare their displeasure and promised retribution.

Miraculously, though, Brazil’s professional surfers stood in the gap and averted any bloodshed. I watched today’s contest in awe as Brazilian after Brazilian dispatched lesser Australians and Peruvians, even one American, in order to rush into, then sweep, the quarterfinal round thereby guaranteeing a green and gold champion, runner-up, equal third.

Only a few moments of Brazilian on Brazilian violence in the pen-penultimate frame.

Sammy Pupo over Mateus Herdy.

Italo Ferreira over Migg Pupo.

Filipe Toledo over Connor O’Leary.

Yago Dora over Callum Robson.


The great JP Currie will cover later but, in the meantime, raise a caipirinha and toast the fates. World Surf League judges will be dining, worry-free, on delicious churrascaria tonight. World Surf League announcers driving buggies to nearby suburbs and lounging on beaches without fear.

Peace for our time.