It seems like Filipe Toledo, 18, went from a relative unknown to a member of the elite ASP Top 34 in no time. The young Brazilian with then-broken English cracked the international stage with a heroic win at the US Open Pro Junior back in 2011, cementing a name for himself as an up-and-comer to watch after topping celebrated prodigies Kolohe Andino, 19, John John Florence, 21, and Conner Coffin, 20, in the high-profile Final.
While it's not uncommon for Pro Junior standouts to struggle with the transition into the Qualification Series (QS), Toledo blitzed through the process, quickly securing his place on the World Championship Tour (WCT) just a little more than a year after that fateful day in Huntington Beach.
Toledo's 2013 rookie campaign was filled with moments of brilliance alongside the expected stumbles that newcomers suffer at the hands of wily veterans.
With his first season amongst the global elite under his belt, Toledo is embarking on his sophomore season with more confidence, more experience and a new surfboard shaper. The ASP caught up with the high-flying Brazilian in Manly where he's warming up for the season with a run in the ASP 6-Star Hurley Australian Open of Surfing
This is the Rookie Returns: Filipe Toledo
You entered your rookie year as one of the youngest surfers ever to qualify for the WCT and you had some really good results with two Quarterfinals and a Semifinal. Following a successful rookie year, what kind of pressure are you facing in 2014?
I donâ€™t feel any pressure. The only thing I want is to always exceed my limits, beat my opponents and improve. That's what makes me happy!
Now that you have a year of experience under your belt, how important is it to have a breakthrough result this year?
Where I live, I have no pointbreak waves, so every year I really hope to improve my performances in those types of waves. I believe we are constantly learning. He who thinks he already knows everything, will not evolve and Iâ€™m still so young, I still have so much to learn.
What were the highs and lows of 2013? Were there any defining moments that you learned from the most?
â€œThe waves in Fiji, Teahupo and Pipe were by far where I feel that I learned the most last year. I have yet to gain momentum and experience in those types of waves, but on the other hand, I am well trained in other types of waves. My main goal is that I hope to improve my performances this year at each event and I would love to win."
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast is just around the corner, how much more prepared are you in 2014 than last season? What changes for you heading back to Snapper for your sophomore year?
Late last year, I hurt myself playing football with my brothers - it was a terrible way to end the year! I'm better and training hard now and my focus is to improve my result at Snapper from last year. I'm making new boards and they are flying! Who knows, maybe Iâ€™ll achieve my dream at the first stop.
What are your goals and expectations for 2014?
My expectations are high! Each year I want to gain experience and I want to be more and more difficult to be beaten! I want to become a machine and compete as well as Kelly and Mick.