Friends of Boa Onda Guesthouse Peniche today we will find out who are the most famous Brazilian surfers in recent history including men and women participating in the most important competitions in the international surfing scene. For the past few years Brazilian athletes have been distinguishing themselves as some of the best and most successful surfers participating in the WSL, as the latest editions of the world championship have been won by surfers of the calibre of Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira, with compatriot Filipe Toledo ready to challenge them.
Like the previous article dedicated to discovering famous Italian surfers, we will try to give you a general overview of the leading figures in Italian surfing before moving on to the usual definitive selection. Enjoy your reading.
Who are the famous Brazilian surfers
In Brazil, the enigmatic goofyfooter is considered a national hero thanks to the world titles he delivered to the proud surfing nation in 2014, 2018 and 2021. His return to São Paulo was national news after an epic win at Pipeline for his second title, and even today Medina struggles to go anywhere in Brazil without being recognised. By 2021 he had 8.7 million followers on Instagram, and after being selected for the Tokyo Olympic Games his popularity has shown no signs of slowing down.
Of course, anyone who approached the Brazilian surfing scene a decade ago saw Medina coming. His explosive repertoire of over-the-lip manoeuvres earned him all sorts of amateur titles in his early teens, including Rip Curl’s Grom Search, Quiksilver’s King of the Groms and several national titles. In 2009, the 15-year-old Medina became the youngest surfer ever to win a major Qualifying Series event.
In the middle of 2011, the 17-year-old Medina qualified for the Championship Tour (along with John John Florence) and immediately rose to prominence with his high-flying acrobatic approach. He won the first event he competed in as a CT member and repeated the feat two events later. His huge impact on the international stage fuelled the burgeoning Brazilian Storm, a new injection of Brazilian talent that now occupies a third of the Championship Tour roster.
Since 2015, Medina has scored more wins on the Championship Tour than any other competitor and dominates his closest rivals in head-to-head battles, which is why he remains a perennial world title contender. In 2019 he was once again involved in one of the most dramatic surfing finals in history, despite finishing second to Italo Ferreira.
In 2021 Medina married Brazilian model Yasmin Brunet and parted ways with his long-time coach, stepfather Charlie Rodrigues.
Working with Andy King, Medina started the year in fine form by winning two CT events in Australia and becoming the first surfer to qualify for the inaugural WSL Finals. His dominance throughout the year proved prophetic and Medina captured his third world title in epic waves on the Trestles cobbles. In doing so, he joined his heroes Mick Fanning and Andy Irons as three-time world champions.
2019 World Champion Italo Ferreira is one of the industry’s most explosive surfers, known for his high-energy approach and willingness to entertain at all costs. His victory over Gabriel Medina during a challenge at Pipeline in 2019 was considered one of the sport’s greatest finishes.
Until, that is, the Brazilian won surfing’s first Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Italo’s infectious personality and visible passion, not to mention his surfing prowess, captured the headlines and mainstream attention.
Ferreira learned to surf on a three-foot-long lid of a cooler his father used to transport fish to sell to restaurants in Baia Formosa, a small coastal town in the far north of Brazil. After switching to a real board, Italo’s early progress was noticed and then nurtured by Jadson Andre and renowned scout and coach Luiz ‘Pinga’ Campos.
Ferreira first came to prominence on the Championship Tour during his rookie season in 2015, thanks to an aerial attack and spellbinding rail play. During his breakthrough year, he reached the semi-finals in Rio and quarter-finals in Fiji, Tahiti and France, before reaching his first CT final in Portugal. Italo won the Rookie of the Year award after finishing his remarkable year as world number 7.
From then on, many considered him a serious threat for the title, including his hero Mick Fanning. After that rookie year, however, the boy from Formosa Bay experienced some ups and downs. He had some bright moments in 2016, with semi-final appearances at Bells and Margaret River, but was stopped in the fifth round seven times and dropped to No. 15. He seemed on track to bounce back in 2017 after an excellent fifth-place finish at Snapper, but two days after the event he tore ligaments in his ankle and missed the next three stages.
In 2018, Ferreira recovered almost immediately, taking three wins in Bells, Keramas and Supertubos and jumping to No. 4 in the CT rankings. In 2019, Ferreira had an incredible end to the year, finishing second in France and winning the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal before the Billabong Pipe Masters. At Pipe, Ferreira showed all his class and potential by winning both the final and the world title despite immense pressure from Gabriel Medina. Medina would turn the tables on him and defeat him in the 2021 WSL finals, sparking a great surfing rivalry of the modern era.
Throughout his professional career, Filipe Toledo has been the spearhead of the progressive surfing movement. Small in stature, but massive in his moves, especially his aerial ones, this Brazilian tornado’s heart-pounding approach has earned him 10 wins on the Championship Tour since his CT debut in 2013.
He is a second-generation professional who grew up outside Ubatuba, Brazil. His father and long-time coach, Ricardo, is a two-time national champion. In 2014, as his career took off, Filipe convinced his entire family to move to San Clemente, California. Today, Filipe and his wife Ana’s two sons are the latest additions to their legendary backyard barbeques.
According to his colleagues, Toledo’s volatility is the only thing preventing him from achieving his dream of a world title. His high flying manner also makes him vulnerable to injury (he missed two events in 2016) and his youthful passion has led to a series of costly mental errors (he was suspended for one event in 2017 for his behaviour following an interference call).
His breakthrough year was 2015, when he won three events and was ranked No. 4. In 2019 he battled for the world title at Pipeline, finishing the season once again at No. 4 in the Jeep rankings. In 2021 he moved even closer to his ultimate goal of a world title, making the best of three finals against Gabriel Medina in the inaugural WSL Finals. Medina beat him in what was one of the most explosive world title challenges in surfing history, but Toledo’s second place finish was the best result of his stellar career.
This goofy-eyed goofyfooter, born in Brazil and raised in Hawaii, has been a fiery, strong, bold and confident presence on the CT since 2015. Her competitive drive comes from her Brazilian mother, a former professional bodyboarder who won an event at Pipeline in the 1990s. Her passion comes from her father, of British descent but known as a hardcore surfer in Kauai.
A few days after his birth in Brazil, the family moved to Garden Isle and the timing couldn’t have been better. Kauai’s hotbed of talent was making its way onto the world stage, led by Andy and Bruce Irons, and Tatiana was one of dozens of enthusiastic surfers who were riding the wave. Her father routinely took her paddling in the big Hanalei Bay when she was young, which is why she is one of the safest surfers on the Tour in the big waves. When Hollywood needed a stunt double to play the young Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer, 11-year-old Tatiana was the perfect choice. She spent three weeks on Oahu filming and hanging out with her friend and heroine.
On his way to the Championship Tour, he twice won the ISA World Junior Championships in 2013 and 2014. His high-energy approach is a direct reflection of his personality; devoid of any shyness, he is equally dangerous at three-metre Cloudbreak as he is at three-metre Huntington Beach. In 2016 she scored her first CT win at the Vans US Open of Surfing and in 2017 she reached two finals in Fiji and HB.
In 2018 she climbed from 10th to 4th in the Jeep rankings, finishing second to Bells and Uluwatu. In 2019 she was consistent, though unspectacular, and ranked as world number 6. Having decided to compete under the Brazilian flag since 2018, this achievement meant she would represent her mother’s country at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The disappointment of missing out on a medal at the Games was offset by an incredible run at the CT in 2021. After qualifying for the WSL Finals, she pushed Carissa Moore all the way in a best-of-three final. Her result as world number 2 was the best of her career and she immediately promised to do better.
Source biographies: WSL
World-famous Brazilian surfers
Below is a list of the most popular Brazilian surfers known to the general surfing public. The usual selection cannot be considered definitive as we will endeavour to constantly update it over time. Should you have any useful suggestions, please contact us to further elaborate and improve the post.
- Jessica Becker
- Lucas Chumbo
- Ítalo Ferreira
- Maya Gabeira
- Ian Gouveia
- Jihad Khodr
- Rodrigo Koxa
- Silvana Lima
- Gabriel Medina
- Alejo Muniz
- José Otávio
- Alexandre de Pontes
- Phil Rajzman
- Alex Ribeiro (surfer)
- Ricardo dos Santos
- Guido Schaffer
- Adriano de Souza
- Guilherme Tâmega
- Filipe Toledo
- Tatiana Weston-Webb
Hoping to have provided some useful information regarding the selection of famous Brazilian surfers in today’s surfing world, we invite you to provide us with useful suggestions to update this list over time. Also, if you would like to come and visit us during the Meo Rip Curl Pro World Championship stage in Peniche, we would be happy to have you as our welcome guests.
Until next time and have fun in Portugal!