It's no surprise that Filipe Toledo is one of the event favorites going into Brazil. Unlike last year, when the Oi Rio Pro was his first competition back from a serious groin injury, Toledo has never been fitter, physically or mentally.
At 22 and in his fifth year on the CT, he is noticeably bigger and stronger than when he arrived as a whippet-like 17-year-old. At the time, he needed a contest singlet and a wet towel to get over the 130-pound mark. Emotionally, he is also content. Settled in California with his partner and new daughter, he travels with the trusted support of the Hurley Team and Ricardo -- his coach, father, and best mate. For a surfer so young, it is a stable and mature platform for his rare and electric talent.
If he was nearly unbeatable in beach breaks two years ago, there is no reason to think he is any easier an opponent now. If anything, his current ranking as World No. 6 doesn't really reflect his form. It was only a surprise Round Two loss to Zeke Lau at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast that had him out of the early World Title conversation.
His response to that loss over the next two events, however, was impressive. In conditions that haven't traditionally been his strong point, Toledo secured a 3rd and a 5th, with performances that dramatically enhanced his reputation in powerful waves.
And while Toledo's entire repertoire is solid, his air game is what sets him apart. His tour cohorts are still talking about the amazing air he pulled last year in France to earn a Round Four win over John John Florence. Even Filipe believes it was the best he's ever pulled in competition. But with how fast he's advancing the aerial game, we simply can't take our eyes off him...especially in Brazil's bouncy beach break.