Stab Magazine | Footbridge Built To Protect Surfers From Fans In Rio!
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Footbridge Built To Protect Surfers From Fans In Rio!

From competitor’s area to shorebreak.

news // May 2, 2016
Words by Steve Allain
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Fact: Brazilians are the wildest, loudest, and most intense sports fans in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Soccer World Cup, the Olympics or the local volleyball little league – if a Brazilian is competing, their countrymen will be cheering with everything they have.

In surfing, it’s no different. The Brazilian crowd, in fact, is what makes the South American event of the World Tour so special. Nowhere else do you get the feeling you’re in a packed stadium surrounded by thousands of screaming fanatics. A WSL contest in Rio means hoards at the beach chanting, booing, screaming, cursing. Basically, having a very good time.

Rio Pro Footbridge 2

And while this is nothing new – who can forget ADS beating Owen in 2011 before thousands of screaming fans with history’s highest-scoring floater? – last year was above and beyond anything previously imaginable. The popularity of the Brazilian Storm drew tens of thousands to Barra da Tijuca and the Oi Rio Pro wore the largest and most intense crowds ever seen at a WSL event.

For the surfers, the walk from the competitor’s area to the water’s edge was… daunting. If you were a Brazzo, it was too much love – there are only so many slaps on the back and unrequested words of wisdom one can take before a heat. If you were surfing against a local, then you’d have to prep yourself for some verbal abuse – and the accompanying specks of flying saliva.

Rio Pro Footbridge 3

While the WSL and sponsors alike still want as many people as possible on the beach, event organisers decided to make the competitors’ lives a little easier this year by building a footbridge from the scaffolding all the way to the water.

“This bridge will go all the way into the water, so surfers can get in and out more safely,” explains event organiser Dani Setton. “Last year we saw a larger public than we ever expected, it was the biggest crowd ever seen at a WSL event and we want to be better prepared this year.”

While it’s doubtful that a footbridge will diminish the fans’ enthusiasm for their local heroes, the catwalk-like style of the structure will surely add an interesting factor to the competition. Extra points for the best swagger?

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