Moura is Alright!
Author: ASP World Tour
MOURA IS ALRIGHT!
Ex sarge, Gold Coast, Thursday June 24th, 2004.
CURRENTLY equal thirteenth and Brasil's highest rated WCT surfer, Paulo Moura
is one of the least 'known' surfers on tour, as well as one of the most misunderstood. To us westerners, many, if not all of the Brasileiros are somewhat mysterious characters. That, of course, is a legacy of both language and cultural barriers. Though all of our eight South American brothers on the WCT tour speak reasonable English, both their vocabulary and comprehension are understandably limited. When you can't properly converse with someone, you simply cannot get to know them properly. Quick to assume, as we all are, many people including myself, have failed to understand the Brasileiros in varying degrees, and Paulo in particular.
Unfortunately, an ill-perception of Paulo's persona has developed. He is a very determined and focussed individual, and that has been misread. Beyond a nod or obligatory acknowledgment, none of the Americans, Aussies or Hawaiians have any relationship at all with Paulo. As usual, assumptions and rumours are often far from fact, and the classification of the northern Brasileiro goofy footer is a prime instance of mistaken and therefore unfair identity. Assessed by many as arrogant, surly, spoilt and unapproachable, Paulo Moura
's real character is quite the opposite of that judgment.
There was a story going around last season that Paulo was a bit of a spoilt brat because his parents were extremely rich, and that he had grown up with servants at his beck and call. I personally didn't help that one in Hawaii
last year. I stayed there on the North Shore
with the three Padaratz brothers, Guilherme Herdy
, Paulo and my apprentice Johan de Niet
. Although Flavio Padaratz is one of my closest friends, I found the company hard to handle. Brasileiros do everything with passion and exuberance, and that includes something as basic as talking. To our 'English ears' they converse like they're in heated debate, loud and expressive, almost as though they are arguing.
Because our abode was housing the 'who's who' of Brasil, there was a never-ending stream of visitors, all as loud and raucous as my housemates. It was like living in a house full of relentlessly screaming parakeets, and I let it get to me. Paulo also got to me. The bugger would never wash up, or clean up after himself, and always seemed tense. Selfish me failed to consider the fact that he hadn't had such a great season, and was hovering on the edge of the cut-off point in the ratings, and needed some solid results in Hawaii
. That would make anyone tense.
My first memory of Paulo is back in 2001. Bells was the first WCT event of the season that year, as well as the first event of rookie Paulo's WCT career. He'd got spanked in his heat, a standard career opener of a 33rd placing, and while everyone raged around him in the Bells beer tent that same night, he sat in the corner looking extremely dejected. I moved to try and cheer him up, assuring him that it was all a journey of learning, and not to be too hard on himself. He looked up, tears brimming in his eyes, lamenting "I have SO much to learn!" He is still on that mission.
Born 250 kilometres from the ocean, inland from Recife in Brasil's north-east, Paulo comes from a large and close family. His father is a doctor, as are two of his elder brothers. He has a younger brother and a sister as well. Wanting a better life for their children than that which prevailed in their impoverished rural settings, Paulo's parents encouraged he and his siblings to move into Recife on the coastline. Paulo was 12 at the time, and though his mother regularly visited them on weekends, he grew up supported and encouraged by his brothers and sisters, developing an independent and determined attitude.
His first year on the WCT tour was a massive shock to him, especially finding his heroes treating him with disdain and keeping him at a distance. It's not just the Brasileiro rookies that cop those tactics. Rookies are threats to the incumbent, and regardless of their origin, the new-comers have to earn their respect and place in the pecking order. That's the way it is in the top strata of any sport.
"I closed up at first, determining to just make my own way, just feeling a need to protect myself" recalled Paulo. "The Americans and Aussies look at us like underdogs, like we can't do it. Their cultures say they can do anything, ours does not. It was painful, and still is sometimes, but I try to make the best of every day. My mother once said to me 'The smartest guy is the one who takes the best part of the worst pain', and I just keep at making my mind strong and improving at every opportunity. My heart is a nice heart, an open heart, and I try to help people, and be happy every day."
Over the years, the Brasileiros have been chided for their timidness in bigger conditions, and that's just one classification that Paulo is out to change. Since he was in his teens, Paulo has averaged three months on the North Shore
every season. He also spends a lot of time in Tahiti
. The goofy footer loves big pits. In his rookie year, he took out Kalani Robb
and Taj Burrow
in his first round heat at Teahupoo. He finished ninth there in 2002, but only 17th the past two years. He’s determined to break down the door sooner than later. There in Tahiti
, and everywhere else on tour, he and Guilherme Herdy
are the only two of the Brasileiro squad who go out of their way to spend extra time in locations, and look beyond the South American frontiers trying to adopt the considered better habits of the 'gringos', as they refer to us westerners. Paulo is passionate about everything, including his boards, getting his guns from Hawaii
, and his smaller sticks from Australia
's Darren Handley
. He is a professional, and a good one at that. He is going to make it.
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