There must be times when it can't be easy being Ian Gouveia, especially when he's at home in Recife, the seaside capital of northeastern Brazil's Pernambuco province.
Gouveia's father, Fabio, is a god in the pantheon of Brazilian surfing, the first ever to bring home a surfing world championship of any form (World Amateur Champion, 1988) and win a pro event on Hawaii's North Shore (World Cup at Sunset Beach, 1991). The smooth-carving regularfoot was a perennial member of the pro tour's elite for a decade, peaking at No. 5 on the pro circuit rankings in 1992.
Being the child of a surf legend is a heavy burden to shoulder, undoubtedly. But as the latest second-generation surfer to reach the top tier of pro surfing (matching families such as the Hos and Andinos), Ian's jump to the 2017 Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour proves it's a legacy he seems ready to carry on.
But first, before delving too deeply into Gouveia's breakthrough season and No. 9 ranking on the Qualifying Series, let's establish one parameter: the idea of the so-called "Brazilian Storm" is a complete misnomer. It denotes a sense of temporality. Something along the lines of "Brazilian Jetstream" sounds more appropriate in this day and age. And as much as the traditional surfing powers may not want to admit it, Brazil is now situated comfortably alongside the three traditional mega-powers: Australia, the surfing nation-state of Hawaii, and mainland USA.
After a prolific junior career (he was coincidently ranked #9 in Surfer Magazine's 2013 Hot 100 list), 24-year-old Gouveia is just the latest in a string of talented goofyfooters to emerge from the land of Caipirinhas and Capoeira. His crouching, spring-loaded style echoes Wiggolly Dantas and Italo Ferreira. Like Ferreira and fellow Brazilian Filipe Toledo, the stocky man from Recife has a deep bag of tricks, and has been known to pull together video parts out of a single session at Rocky Point.
Gouveia's early run to 2017 CT qualification was unusual -- if not outrightly improbable -- due to a slow start. He didn't really get things kick-started until mid-season. The turning point for the young Brazilian happened in September, when he put together a string of three outstanding results over a five-week stretch of the Qualifying Series' European leg. A 3rd place result at the 10,000 point Billabong Pro Cascais and 4th at the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro bookended a determined victory over QS rival Ezekiel Lau at the Azores Airlines Pro.
"I'm so stoked to keep my good rhythm, after that Final at the Pantin Pro, I honestly just wouldn't have been happy with anything else other than a win here," he told the WSL after his win at the Azores Airlines Pro. "This my biggest win ever and it's going to change my season around for sure, now I'm going to maybe battle for qualification so that's incredible."
Heading into the QS season's final two stops at Haleiwa and Sunset Beach, Gouveia was sitting relatively comfortably inside the QS top 10 at No. 6. But with both events being of the coveted 10,000 point variety, there was no time for coasting on a high seed straight into Round Three. An unconvincing Round Three loss at the Hawaiian Pro was not the result he needed, nor was 17th at the World Cup a week later.
His ranking fell. Perched on the qualification bubble, he was forced to endure more than a few nail-biting hours at the World Cup while Frederico Morais and Tanner Gudauskas wrecked havoc on the status quo. In the end, he survived and made the cut. It may not have been the ideal way to cap off an otherwise stellar year, and there's hard work yet to be done at some of the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour's more demanding waves, but you know what they say about getting somewhere... it's about the journey, not the destination. And, in terms of pro surfing, the Dream Tour's a pretty damn good place to be.