"I've been on tour for almost 11 years, and at the end of last year for the first time I was feeling like I needed a break," Jadson Andre told the WSL. It's unsurprising. The Brazilian had his first year on tour as an 18-year-old in 2008 and made the CT in 2010. He's competed on both the QS and CT full-time ever since.
The enforced break due to Covid-19 therefore provided a both a break and a reflection on what was missing from his life. "Having been forced to stay at home it really hit home how much I love travelling and competing and how much I missed it. So I can't wait to get back and do what we do."
When Jadson first started competing it was only him and Adriano de Souza who were flying the Brazilian flag on the CT ranks. In the last decade the pair have shepherded in a new era of Brazilian dominance.
The recent competitive retirement of Adriano de Souza should mean that Jadson now takes on an even more senior role in the tight Brazilian camp. However the effervescent and popular goofy footer has instead used his time in lock down to educate himself on the art of high performance surfing.
And with Italo Ferreira he's found a new mentor. Italo grew up only 45 minutes down the coast from Jadson and he's cast a watchful and proprietorial eye over his fellow goofy foot ever since Italo first came on tour. Now though the master has become the apprentice.
"I know I have a lot to improve and Italo has given me so much advice; like the way he watches the waves, the way he studies how other people surf, it's unbelievable," says Andre. "It is a lot of simple stuff really, but it's things I never really did, so I have been learning a lot."
Andre has been shadowing the World Champion staying at his home for weeks at a time during the lock down, sparring on recent trip to the Maldives and traveling with him to compete in the MEO Portugal Cup of Surfing.
"Italo has won a World Title and every surf he keeps improving. He wants to be better surfer than the day before every single day," says Andre. "I've watched him since he was young and that has been a constant. He freaks me out. I tell him, ‘maybe just relax for a week and calm down', but the drive is always there and it's only getting stronger."
Andre says that whilst competing that drive can sometimes be barrier to developing stronger friendships on Tour. In the lock down however the pair's already strong bond was further strengthened by spending so much time together without the pressure of elite level of competition.
However with the return to CT imminent Jadson has, like Italo, set about coming back fitter, stronger and as a better surfer than before the break. The old dog is still learning new tricks and feels that with a new found work ethic and Italo as inspiration his performance levels are as high at any stage as of his career.
"Everyone is so talented on tour, but it's the surfers that are mentally strong and who work harder that get the results," says Andre. "Look at Italo, Gabe and Filipe, I know they are Brazilians, but their results speak for themselves. I try and surround myself with those guys so I can improve. I can't wait to get back to competition and show what I've learned."