Miguel Pupo reached the Quarterfinals for the first time this year in France, showing the same form that made him one of the biggest sparks of the Brazilian Storm. While his 5th place finish pushed him four spots up the Jeep Leaderboard, the veteran performer is sitting at No. 27, a few thousand points shy of the Championship Tour (CT) cutoff, which means the Qualifying Series (QS) could be his home in 2018 without another big push.
The situation, however, isn't unfamiliar. And time and again Pupo has found a way to stay in the elite ranks. Today his big family cheering section has grown by one. Miguel and his wife, Bruna Tiedt, have a newborn daughter, and Miguel is settling into his new role as a father.
WSL: You had a major wake up call at the start of 2017, let's start there.
Miguel Pupo: It was a hard start to the year getting dropped by my major sponsor and then having a baby three months later. It's good motivation, but in the back of your mind you know you have a family to feed so I knew I had to keep it together and stay strong.
You've had more success on the Qualifying Series since you started your CT career and have turned to it more than ever this year. What's motivated you to do so?
I haven't been doing the QS's so much for points, but rather I'm coming to these events looking for something else which is to find myself. Because I'm good at making heats, the issue is that on the CT there's five days off and it's hard for me to keep that momentum. When we have a break I kind of lose myself sometimes and that's something I've been trying to work on every single day. I've been working with a few different guys the last six months on strengthening my mind and staying focused and determining what is working. I know it'll get there.
What's it like to be considered a CT veteran at such a young age? What pressures come with that?
Every time I take a step back and think, it's crazy, I'm only 25 and I've been on Tour for seven years. That means something to me and you just have to be ready. The surfing's there, I think it's one of my best years surfing wise. When people mention that I'm ripping and ask how I'm not getting results, that gets in my head too because it's a totally different mindset when you freesurf compared to a heat. It's all about making it happen in thirty minutes.
It's crazy, I'm only 25 and I've been on Tour for seven years. That means something...You just have to find that balance, not just in surfing, but also in life.
And that's where that mental training comes in. I'm focusing on getting it done in 30 minutes. You have to find that balance, not just in surfing but also in life. For me, my personal life is perfect. I have a beautiful wife, a beautiful baby and my own house. I just have to think ‘just go out there and surf' -- it's easy and hard at the same time.
WSL: What has being a father helped you learn?
Being a father means a lot of things, but I think the biggest one is love. Once you see your own kid, a piece of you living right there before your own eyes -- when she laughs or she cries, I can't help but be happy all day with her. Since I'm not home a lot, any time I come home I try to spend as much time with her as I can and I actually want to have another one soon.
Fatherhood is just amazing to me. It's hard to explain if you don't have a kid but for those who do you just know -- it gives a real meaning to life. It's bigger than contests and results. It's way bigger than all of that. When I look at my child I feel like, this is why I'm on this planet. It's to love her and raise her.
I look at the world completely different, even the smallest things like driving. I used to take an hour and a half to get to São Paulo city, and now I'm taking three hours. I used to just be this guy on Tour with a girlfriend, traveling the world and now I have to be someone -- the head of the family. It's tough, relationships can be tough but we make it work everyday. And even the relationship with myself and being the Miguel at home and the Miguel away from home, who is competing to make a living for his family. That's what I'm working toward this year and I believe I'll have it down by the end of the year.
What's something that caught you off guard as you begin to raise your daughter?
What surprises me a lot is that I just know what she wants even though there are no words yet. One day she was crying so loud for almost thirty minutes straight and we were trying everything from getting her to sleep to massaging her tummy but then it came to me that she wants to hear her favorite music. A second after putting the music on she stopped crying.
Some days it changes and you just feel it. I think because it's just a piece of you, that you just know -- it's amazing. I feel like it is hard being away from my family so much, but with FaceTime and WhatsApp where she can send me pictures or videos every single day I feel like I'm there even when I'm not. It helps fill that hole a little bit and I don't feel so far away from them.
What's it like to have that type of support from your wife?
It's next level and I love her so much. She's the one that's there everyday with me at the house when I'm home, waking up at 5:00 a.m. and working hard. I'll come back and play with the baby and help her too but she just wants to see me happy. I'm always a happy guy but she wants to see me make heats because she knows it makes me even happier.
What's made this year more difficult than others?
I think the toughest part right now is the losing because in this sport you lose more than you win. I've just told my brother [Samuel] to not get too hard on himself because he's going to lose more than he's going to win. You can lose today but you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.
Catch Miguel Pupo and the rest of the Top 34 take on Peniche, Portugal for Stop No. 10 of the Championship Tour, October 20 through 31.