The Brazilian Storm shouldn’t be called a storm anymore. Storms are temporary, blowing in quickly and throwing their weight around before exiting stage right. Things go back to normal after a storm. But the Brazilian storm is intensifying, and it has been doing it for so long that it’s the new normal. Brazilians are the dominating force in pro surfing right now, and it’s not going to change any time soon. After decades of American and Australian dominance, Brazilians are breaking down the new door and planting their flag atop the pro surfing mountain. Gabriel Medina, Felipe Toledo, Adriano de Souza, Silvana Lima, and the rest of the pack are just the tip of a giant iceberg, surfing with passion and fire that comes only from Brazil. It’s a wonderful thing to watch. Surfing is a different beast in Brazil. It’s a professional sport, no ifs, ands, or buts. That’s the mindset that put the nation on the top of the professional surfing heap, and they’re going to be there for a long time.
One of Brazil’s largest favelas, Rocinha, has a reputation as a dangerous place. There is a group of surfers there, however, that wants to change that reputation. They want “to change perceptions and inspire the next generation to care about the ocean,” and as this short film from National Geographic shows, it’s an inspiring mission. “If it wasn’t for surfing, what would I be doing?” asks Wesley, a surfer from Rocinha. “I’d be lost in life. I’d be out here in the favela doing stupid shit.” The water they’re surfing in, however, is often dangerously polluted. A small group of surfers wants to see that change, because in Rocinha, surfing is not merely a pastime—it’s a way of life, a way out, and a way to stay alive.