‘I’m The One White Kid With A Mustache In The 77 Tent Filled With Hundreds Of Brazilians’
How a kid from Jersey got adopted by the Toledo family at the WSL Finals.
Editor’s note: 24-year-old surf spectator Shawn Behrend told us his story of accidentally joining the Toledo camp at the 2023 WSL Finals. It was cute, so we figured we’d pop it on here. Below is Shawn’s story in his own words, with some quotes paraphrased for brevity.
I’m just a normal kid from Jersey that surfs. My aunt lives out in Huntington Beach and for the past three years, I’ve gone to visit her during the waiting period of the WSL Finals. Last year I came down to watch, and Filipe’s family randomly gave me one of his 77 umbrellas, so I thought ‘Damn, I’m in with the Toledos then’.
This year I woke up at 4 am, parked on the street and started walking down the trail to Trestles in pitch darkness. Eventually I came across some cars and out jumped Renato [Hickel]. He was laughing because the day before his friend had seen a few giant rattlesnakes on the path I’d just walked down.
Anyways, I keep walking down to Trestles and decide I’m going to find a spot at the end of the right so I can see all Filipe’s big airs. It’s about 5 am at this point, and I’m down there alone with my flashlight. About 15 minutes later, Filipe’s whole posse shows up — his dad, wife, kids, manager, friends, extended family and so on — and they just pitch their 77 tent right on top of me.
I don’t think I look Brazilian in the slightest, but they all thought I spoke Portuguese. I told them ‘no, but I am hoping Filipe wins’. They were stoked, so they threw me a T-shirt and just accepted me as one of their own. I couldn’t believe how friendly they were. Throughout the day I was offered nic sticks, weed, beer, merch…
Brazilians are really not ‘personal space’ type of people. Everybody was so tightly packed, and there must have been a hundred people under that tent and around it. I brought a chair down there, and people were sitting on my arm wrests, sitting on my feet even. It was just insane.
The energy was incredible in that tent — anytime that he stood up, everybody went insane. It didn’t matter what he was doing, they went absolutely crazy. They had one of those microphone loudspeakers, and they were singing all these pre-planned chants. They were mostly in Portugese, so I’d just yell out ‘Toledo!’ every now and then. Pretty classic.
With two minutes left in the women’s match, I’d say 80% of the people just stood up and just walked onto the cobblestones. Everybody went down except his close family who stayed under the tent, but they all went and walked into the water onto the rocks.
I don’t know if you noticed this, but once Filipe won the title, he didn’t take the ski ride in. He got a wave straight in and then ran straight towards the tent and got chaired up the beach right next to us. So I was front and center as the celebrations kicked off, which was pretty cool.
Admittedly I did feel a little bit out of place and so I was like ‘I’m going to let them have this moment to themselves’. It’d be weird to have someone just standing around taking videos of you. I reckon if I did stay I would have copped an invite to the afterparty though…
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