The upcoming WSL Founders' Cup Pres. by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is promising to settle some long-running scores between powerful surfing regions thanks to its team format. But of the five squads involved it'd be tough to argue than any is as fired up as Brazil. For the bulk of pro surfing's forty year history Brazil and its South American neighbors lived in the shadows of surfing's superpowers like Australia, Hawaii, America and Europe. Not any more. Today Brazilians are the most dominant force on the Championship Tour, and nothing would drill that point home more than taking the cup. Here's a look at the squad they hope to do it with.
Captain: Gabriel Medina
Since bringing home Brazil's first-ever WSL World Title back in 2014 Medina has become a national sports hero back home and one of the most popular surfers in the world. His six million Instagram followers are more than Kelly Slater and John John Florence combined. Medina's coming into the event as a defending champ of sorts: he won the test event back in the fall of 2017. With one of the most versatile and dynamic approaches in the game, Medina remains a perennial World Title contender, but on May 5th and 6th he'll be playing team captain.
Adriano de Souza
While Medina is the public-facing figurehead for the Brazilian squad, De Souza is undoubtedly the spiritual leader. The veteran Tour campaigner sparked the Brazilian fire storm that's altered the pro surfing landscape over the past decade. His rags to riches story is one of the most inspirational in the sport, and was capped with his 2015 World Title. De Souza's inner fire is contagious, and you can bet he'll be motivating his teammates for this one.
Toledo has been one of the most dominant surfers on the Championship Tour over the past three years. His explosive repertoire of high-flying moves has netted him more Tour victories than most. His favorite role to play is the stick of dynamite that blows the lid off of expectations, which is why fans don't want to take their eyes off him.
Silvana Lima is a warrior. There's no other word to describe someone with her skill, determination and resilience. She started well behind the line, growing up in a snack-shack on the sand in Paracuaru, Brazil, and learning to surf on a piece of wood. But after getting her first real surfboard at the age of 14 she set the surfing world on fire with her penchant for progressive moves. Lightweight and agile with breakneck speed, she was one of the first women to routinely go to the air in competition. After injuries led to a five-year absence from the Tour, she's back with a refreshed repertoire and is more threatening than ever.
Hinckel is hoping to be Brazil's secret weapon in Lemoore. While she's yet to make huge international headlines she's well known back home as one of the most dynamic up-and comers, which is why she was hand-picked by her team leaders. The feisty regularfooter finished in third a the 2016 Jeep World Junior Championships and is slowly getting set to make her way up the Qualifying Series rankings. The Founders Cup stage will be the brightest one she's ever competed on, and you can bet her teammates will be getting her ready.
The WSL Founders' Cup of Surfing presented by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold will take place from May 5 - 6, 2018. Tickets available at WSLFoundersCup.com.