Perhaps more than any surfer on Tour, Adriano de Souza -- who rose from humble beginnings in a Brazilian favela to become a World Champion, in 2015 -- is a populist hero. And his wife of one year, model Patricia Eicke, has quickly become the other half of surfing's most populist couple. After winning the Oi Rio Pro last week, hundreds of people squashed together to cheer De Souza on and celebrate his success. But what was undeniable was that the win didn't just belong to De Souza, who jumped to equal-No. 2 on the men's Jeep Leaderboard. This was a triumph for everyone -- his family, his fans, and Brazil.
If last year was one of settling into World Champ status -- not to mention his first year of marriage -- 2017 may be his year of renewed focus on competitive results. And, as he has quietly moved closer to the pole position, Eicke has been quietly observing from the sidelines, posing with fans when asked, and taking the throngs of admirers -- chanting, singing and waving Brazilian flags -- in stride.
Before the couple heads to Fiji for the Outerknown Fiji Pro, Eicke offered a glimpse of life behind the scenes.
World Surf League: You attend a number of the Championship Tour contests. How do you feel when you watch Adriano competing?
Patricia Eicke de Souza: I feel really nervous, my heart beats fast, and almost jumps out of my mouth, but I trust him a lot. He has a lot of determination, and when Adriano puts his mind to something, he goes all the way and gets it. And he achieved what he wanted, he won, he is the Champ.
What do you two talk about on competition days? Do you give him any advice?
Before the heats I always wish him good luck, that God be with him and all the positive vibrations, thinking positive and that all will work!
Adriano clearly has many fans, and seems to value being a man of the people, kind of a populist hero. What is that like when you're just trying to have dinner together?
Because Adriano responds to everyone really well, he doesn't [have to bend over backwards] to go take pictures with the public. He answers everyone, talks to everyone… . I think that is what people like about him the most and feel a lot of love for him as well.
He is a very well-known guy everywhere in the world, specially in Brazil. When he is there everyone wants to be around him, get a tiny piece of him, be near, and he likes it very much! Especially, though, he enjoys being with family and friends. We always try to have dinner or lunch together with everyone whenever he arrives in Brazil.
What have you learned from each other so far?
I learn from his determination, how badly he wants to achieve his goals. I admire this quality a lot, and learn from him every day. And what he learns from me, I think, is my positivity and happy spirit. I think he is more and more like that everyday, too.