In 2014, Gabriel Medina captured the first men's World Title for Brazil. Effectively announcing the South American country was no longer an outlier in the race for global surf supremacy, the movement was dubbed the "Brazilian Storm" by media, and to date, said storm shows zero signs of dissipating. In fact, based on what we're seeing in 2021, it has only grown more fierce.
Since '14, Medina's added another title to his trophy case, while Adriano de Souza and Italo Ferreira have also claimed titles of their own. In fact, John John Florence is the only non-Brazilian surfer to win a men's title since 2014. And sadly, Florence's withdrawal from Margaret River due to a knee injury, only clears the path for Brazilian dominance.
With the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona in the books, Medina, Ferreira and event winner Filipe Toledo have collectively carved out spots for themselves atop the WSL Leaderboard. Medina is still riding high in the yellow leader's jersey and Ferreira still in second, but it's Toledo and his effort at Margs that has rocketed him up the ratings from eighth to third, making three Brazilians in the Final 5.
For the women, the rise of Tatiana Weston-Webb, who's coming off of a victory at Margs and a Finals appearance at Narrabeen, gives Brazil much to cheer about. Currently sitting in second on the WSL Leaderboard behind pace-setter Carissa Moore, Weston-Webb has had a remarkably consistent season, tallying first, second and third-place results while only missing Finals Day once.
What this means for the leaderboard's Final 5, and ultimately the Rip Curl WSL Finals, is that as we approach the halfway point of the 2021 season, it's going to be exceptionally hard to slow the Brazilian contingent's rapidly growing momentum.
Due to lack of any significant experience at Rottnest Island, the upcoming Rip Curl Rottnest Search presented by Corona, which kicks off on May 16, is going to be a bit of an unknown for most competitors on Tour.
That said, Strickland Bay is primarily a high-performance left, which suits goofy-footers Medina, Ferreira and Weston-Webb exceptionally well. It's hard to imagine we won't see them come Finals day. Plus, after an uncharacteristic shocker of a heat at Margaret River in the Round of 16, Medina has to have some fire in his belly.
Looking a little further out on the Tour calendar, any of the Brazilian surfers in the men's and women's top five have to be considered threats at most upcoming stops. Toledo and Medina have both won at the Surf Ranch. And while Ferreira and Weston-Webb's results in Lemoore haven't been outstanding, both surfers clearly have the talent and drive to take the top spot at the Tour's only freshwater venue.
When the conversation shifts to Tahiti, Medina's the most dominant surfer on Tour at Teahupoo. Toledo's put in the time and work there and is much improved. And while the women haven't had an event out there in years, Weston-Webb has been making occasional training trips down to Chopes and is probably -- next to Carissa Moore -- one of the most experienced women at the infamous reef break.
And then there's Lower Trestles, site of the Rip Curl WSL Finals this September. Should the Brazilian surfers hold onto their positions in the Final 5, they're going to be hard to beat.
Medina and Toledo both have contest victories there. Ferreira, who spends a fair amount of time in San Clemente working with shaper Timmy Patterson, is no stranger to the break (and you know his boards will be dialed). And for Weston-Webb, she cut her teeth on the famous cobblestones as an amateur surfing Lowers in various junior events.
With four events of the 2021 Championship Tour season in the books and heaps of energy pushing them ever forward, it's hard to imagine the Brazilian Storm abating at this point.
WSL Women's Championship Tour Leaderboard Final 5:
- Carissa Moore (HAW) 29,970 pts
- Tatiana Weston Webb (BRA) 26,495 pts
- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 22,035 pts
- Caroline Marks (USA) 21,305 pts
- Tyler Wright (AUS) 19,965 pts
WSL Men's Championship Tour Leaderboard Final 5:
- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 28,920 pts
- Italo Ferreira (BRA) 24,150 pts
- Filipe Toledo (BRA) 20,735 pts
- John John Florence (HAW) 19,395 pts
- Jordy Smith (ZAF) 19,185 pts