There exists in surfing a home-country curse, in which surfers that you'd think would have the local advantage buckle under the pressure of their community's expectations. Filipe Toledo has never heard of this curse.
Because for the fourth time ever, and the third time consecutively, the fastest man in surfing has won the Oi Rio Pro. It wasn't even close. After blitzing through the all-Brazilian quarter finals and semis with 15.1 and 17.36, respectively, Filipe found himself in the final against up-and-comer Sammy Pupo.
Out of the gates he took off on one of the biggest waves of the day and punted a 6-foot, inverted backside full-rotation air, landing in the bouncing whitewater like it was standing still. The crowd on the beach erupted and each put 10 fingers in the air. The judges obliged and put 10s on their scorecards. Filipe followed it up with a series of searing backside turns — just to show his range — and got an 8.67.
Post-final, after a victory lap on the jet ski, Filipe dove into the water to embrace his opponent, friend and countryman, Sammy Pupo. Then, for the first time ever, the two were chaired up the beach together, the local crowd going nuts at the show of patriotism from their countrymen. On stage, Filipe spoke to a reporter.
"All the heat wins, all the moments with my family and friends," he paused to wipe tears from his eyes, with the Brazilian flag, "it means a lot."
Filipe will go into J-Bay with the yellow jersey on his back, again, and a berth in the final 5 clinched.