It would be tough to blame Jadson Andre for feeling a little stressed right now. He heads in to the Quiksilver Pro France ranked No. 28 on the Championship Tour's Jeep Leaderboard (six spots lower than the re-qualification cutoff) and No. 24 on the Qualifying Series rankings (roughly 14 spots outside the cutoff). Forget about Hail Maries. As both tours enter the final turn of the year, Andre will need a small miracle to keep his 2018 CT hopes alive.
And yet, his mindset at the moment is far from anxious. Instead of seeing this final stretch of the year as a high-stakes slog, he's happier than ever. Having started the year with a new coach, new manager and, eventually, a new girlfriend, Andre is in a place of self-reflection and contentment.
During the EDP Billabong Pro Cascais QS 10,000, where a Quarterfinal finish bumped Andre up 42 spots on the QS ranks, the Brazilian discussed what's changed, and why he's so upbeat, even with the massive headwind of re-qualification.
World Surf League: This time last year, you were in a similar position, in terms of re-qualification and ranking. How are you feeling now?
I feel great. I feel like this year, I've been surfing my best ever. The results don't really show that, but I've been losing a lot of close heats. In Rio, I lost by zero-point-something. In Tahiti, I lost by zero-point-something. And at another contest, I ended up with the same score as the other guy, but he had one wave score higher, so he won the tie-breaker. So I wouldn't say it's been a hard year, but I'm not really getting the results that I think I deserve.
But the good point is that I'm feeling great, my boards feel amazing. I just had the best result of my year in California [at the Vans US Open QS event]. I had to beat some really tough guys, so I think things are starting to happen right now. I'm having a good run in Cascais, and we still have a few events to go. I feel like even if I'm not having the greatest results, I'm surfing much better than last year, and how do you say, it's a matter of time, really soon.
With heats so close, do you ever speak with the judges afterward, or with [your coach], Pinga?
I don't work with Pinga anymore, we had such an amazing relationship, for a long time. But I felt like I needed something more. It's kind of hard when you have two guys on the Tour, and Pinga has Italo [Ferreira]. It's hard for everyone when you have two athletes, and Italo's doing much better than myself. Sometimes we had a heat together -- it wasn't anything bad that made us break up, but I thought it would be better for everyone. And I have a much better relationship now with Pinga.
And about the judges -- I never really talk to them. I think those guys are really well-prepared for what they do. And there are so many closes heats with everyone, so there's nothing to complain about. Just more about doing what you have to do -- in Brazil we say, "Não deixa dúvidas" [don't leave any doubts]. So I decided, there is nothing to complain about those guys, they do a great job. It's all about focusing on myself. It's all about you in heats, surfing well in heats.
When did you start working with your new coach?
After I lost that heat in Portugal against Julian [Wilson, who beat Andre in Round Three by .07 of a point at the Meo Rip Curl Pro], I decided to do everything by myself until December, and then I would see what I would have to do. My new manager, Rafael Abreo, is from my city, and he texted me, ‘Hi, you don't know me, but I'm from the same town. I'm a big fan of yours, and I can help you a lot.' He has a lot of contacts in Brazil, especially where I live, so I would say that 80 percent of my sponsors right now are from my town. I started working with Rafael the first of January. And the coach [Danilo Costa], right after him.
I had a big talk with my new manager: What are the things you need, what is going to be better for you? He asked, ‘What do you think you need? Because whatever you think you need, I'm going to give to you. Even if you don't have a main sponsor, I'm going to pay you everything.' So that's how we started the year.
He has his own nightclub in Brazil, and has done well with business. But that is crazy to see someone who does that -- I didn't have anything to give back to him. But he showed up, and put me as a priority, and that's how we started this. I feel special for those guys. We've worked together for 10 months and I hope we keep together for a few years.
What was it about the 2016 loss to Julian that got you thinking?
After that heat, I didn't have anything to lose. I just felt like it was time for a big change. Sometimes people say things happen for a reason, and I think my losing that heat against Julian was a good thing in the end. Sometimes you don't know why something happens, you get really sad and think about things forever. But one day, you find out why that thing happened. Not just for me, I think everyone has to deal with tough moments in life, and sometimes they don't understand why. But I knew that that happened for a reason.
Believe it or not, after that heat, everything changed for the better. I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the year, if I will be on Tour next year, or if don't make a heat. But I'm going to be OK. This is my life, I love competing, I love to be on Tour, but it's more about you do the right things, so at the end of the day and you can well. Sometimes you feel like, ‘I should have done that, or this,' and complain about yourself. I think that's the worst. But if you do everything right - I mean, I've been giving 110 percent since the start of the year, and working so hard. And [approaching the Tour] like I've never done before. Approaching my whole professional life in a new way. Making my competing better, trying boards, watching my heats from last year. Everything -- things that I never really did before, that I'm doing right now, and that are helping a lot.
Maybe if I were doing really well on the CT right now, I wouldn't be happy. Sometimes you need something to have something to push yourself. If I was Top 10 on the CT right now, what would I be fighting for? So now, I have a reason to be doing what I'm doing right now. I need a result, so let's get it.
Lastly, who's the new woman in your life?
It's a girl from my city, we met right after the Australian leg. And things just went pretty well. I don't know how to explain it, we've been together for five months. But it feels like we've been together for 20 years. It's a crazy thing. I'm happy.
Andre will face Connor O'Leary and Sebastian Zietz in Round One of the Quiksilver Pro France. Tune in Wednesday October 11, at 8:00 a.m. local time for the next call and possible start of the men's event.