Billabong Pro Cascais

Jadson Andre: Embracing the Pain

Anna Dimond

On Monday's morning show in Portugal, WSL commentator Gigs Celliers noted that the Billabong Pro Cascais QS 10,000 isn't just a Qualifying Series contest, but a requalifying series event. That underscored the predicaments that a handful of Championship tour surfers find themselves in at this point in the season, and the pressure that comes with it.

Jadson's Injury at Bells
Jadson's season took a new direction at Bells last March, when he injured his ankle mid-heat. He withdrew from the next event, the Drug Aware Pro in Margaret River.

Jadson Andre is one of those surfers. At No. 22 on the CT rankings, he is hovering just on the safe side of job security. (No. 22 and above keep their spots on tour, and the top 10 on the QS qualify for it, too. If a CT surfer qualifies on both tours, he uses his CT rank and the surfer behind him on the QS ranks gets a spot.) Just after smashing his Round Two heat in Cascais, he chatted about how he handles the pressure, what doing well at this QS contest could mean for him, and why -- stay with me here -- Pipeline is like a lover that runs away.

Jadson Andre during Round Four Andre improved his CT ranking with a strong performance at Lower Trestles, where he finished with a 9th place result. He's currently the last CT surfer making the cut. - WSL / Sean Rowland

WSL: It looked like you were focused and surfing to win.
Jadson Andre: I'm really low on the QS ratings, like 174. So there is not much going on for me there. So I'm just going to enjoy. I always surf better when there's no pressure. That's one of the reasons that I did well today. And also, this is the first event all year that I finished one event and went straight to the next one.

I have no choice. I have to surf with this and make sure I will requalify. In December I can stop for two months and fully rehab.

Because the whole year, I've been surfing one contest and going back to Brazil to train my injuries. No surf, just physio, maybe surf one day, then go into the comp. It's been like that the whole year. So, this is the first one all year where I finished up one, and then came straight here, right after Trestles. And I'm happy with that.

How has the rehab been going?
It feels good. But as I said in Lowers, we don't have any other injury replacements for next year. It would probably be Owen and Bede. So I have no choice. I have to surf with this and make sure I will requalify. In December I can stop for two months and fully rehab. If there was another injury replacement spot, I would stop and take care of it. But I can't.

Jadson Andre made it to the top of his Round One heat with waves like this. Between the contests in Rio and Fiji, Andre spent a month in rehab for his ankle. After that, he surfed just once before his heat in Fiji, where he finished in ninth place. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

I hurt myself at Bells, sat out for WA. I surfed Brazil and my injury got even worse. So then I went almost a month without surfing before I went to Fiji. I surfed once before my heat.

If I tell you that I don't have any pressure, I'm lying. But I can tell you I surf much better when I have no pressure.

That says a lot about your talent and your grit. But it probably hasn't been good for your competitive mindset.
Well, I have no choice. Nobody knew about my knee until Tahiti. I hurt it at home, surfing. I'm used to the pain right now, which is not good. But I prepared myself mentally to deal with this 'til December.

What are you doing to calm your mind?
I'm not thinking about it. Because I have no choice. You don't have to think about it, because you have no choice. You just do it. But I'm happy because I'm doing what I love and I'm doing OK. I had three good results on the CT, Fiji, Tahiti and Lowers. So I'm on the qualifying side right now. Three contests to go, but, also, if I do really good over here, I'll get close to the top guys on the QS and then there are still two more primes [10,000-rated QS contest] in Hawaii.

Pinga and Jadson Andre during the J-Bay Open. Jadson and his manager, Pinga, at Jeffreys Bay in July. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

For some surfers, they say they do better under pressure, especially at this time of year. But for you, it sounds like it's the opposite.
Well, if I tell you that I don't have any pressure, I'm lying. But I can tell you I surf much better when I have no pressure. At the same time, I'm relaxed. Let's see what's going to happen.

It's easy to say you're relaxed. But how do you get there?
I only have one thing on my mind. ‘You have no choice.' I spoke with my manager, Pinga, before Lowers. I said I was low in the rankings. Last year at this time, I think I was 18th, I was in a much better position to requalify. And I was not even close to being as happy with myself as I am now.

One thing that is making me really happy is that with surfing, I'm doing what I really want to do. I'm doing all the turns that I want to do. That's pretty much it. That's how you make heats.

That attitude has been helping me a lot. Because I'm not putting pressure on myself, I'm not overthinking, I'm just surfing. And one thing that is making me really happy is that with surfing, I'm doing what I really want to do. It's really frustrating when you want to do something but you can't, or don't do it well. I'm doing all the turns that I want to do. That's pretty much it. Do the turns and make it. That's how you make heats.

I mean, I could finish the season not making the tour next year. I won't be complaining about myself, but I tell you, in the back of my mind, I know I still have a lot to do in these next three events. In France, Portugal and Hawaii, these waves I know I can do really, really well in.

Jadson Andre eliminated in Round 5. Jadson and France, the next stop on the CT, fit well together. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Pipeline is a place that I always have a feeling that I'm going to do really well. And, it never happens. It's like, you know that girl or that guy that you really want to hook up with? And you're like, ‘Oh, today it's gonna happen.' And for some reason the day goes away and you're like, ‘Oh, I missed it again!' But, I think it's gonna happen really soon. And I hope Pipeline doesn't run away from me.

Maybe a nice cologne and dress shirt, and some confidence will do the trick?
I think the cologne is the wax and the shirt is the board. So, I think I have it now!

Jadson Andre pulls into Backdoor during Round 2. For Jadson, Pipe is the most fickle of lovers. Last year, he finished in 25th. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

This attitude of yours -- do you ever wake up in the morning with weight on your shoulders? How do you keep the levity?
You know, it's been a weird year for me because there are a lot of things going on. I lost my sponsors, I hurt myself twice, and I would say if that was last year or two years ago I would have been freaking out, stressing, angry. But I'm really relaxed.

I hope we're going to have another conversation like this at the end of the year and all this stuff will be over and solved.

I can't explain it. I go to sleep, I pray, and then I don't think about it. I wake up in the morning, I just think about surf, and my heats. I have a couple personal problems, which are big, but I'm not going to worry about it. I really trust God, I have a lot of faith. I think he's telling me something, and I'm not getting it yet. I'm just waiting, to see why. So, we'll see.

I hope we're going to have another conversation like this at the end of the year and all this stuff will be over and solved.