Remember the 7 dollar surfboard?
The 2015 World Champ Will Return To Competition Next Week In Brazil
Adriano de Souza underwent two knee surgeries and a jaw surgery during his eight-month competitive reprieve.
Surfing's "Rudy moment" came on a choppy, three-foot day at the Banzai Pipeline.
December 17, 2015, was the day that Gabriel Medina landed a flailing full-rotation to defeat Mick Fanning in the Pipeline Masters semifinals, thus making Adriano de Souza the World Champion of surfing.
This, in our eyes, might be the greatest achievement in all of professional sport—Tiger Woods' 82 wins, Michael Jordan's six NBA rings, and Kelly Slater's 11 World Titles be damned. For Adriano to defeat surfers like Slater, Florence, Medina, and Fanning across 11 total events was nothing short of a miracle.
But it wasn't divine intervention that earned de Souza his crown. It was the unmatched practice and training that Adriano had done over the prior decade that etched his name in surfing history.
It's often considered cruel to say, or imply even, that a person lacks the natural talent of their peers, and was therefore only able to achieve whatever level of success they did by hard work alone.
I find that logic completely backward.
We shouldn't praise (or condemn) a person for something they were born with. That's just luck. Instead, we should cherish those who, against genetic and (in Adriano's case) socioeconomic odds, became the best in the world at their chosen craft. Because, while it mightn't have been as fun to watch, we can assure you that Adriano's World Title was harder-earned than any of Slater's, Medina's or other freaks of surfing-kind.
I mean, do you think any of those guys would have slept on Jamie O'Brien's couch for six weeks on the North Shore, just to have a better chance at winning the Pipe Masters (which Adriano did in his Title year)?
We doubt it too.
Then, in 2018, after a mostly-disappointing season, Adriano injured himself at the second-to-last-event of the season while mucking around in the shorebreak. Even now, watching the video makes us cringe, as we can imagine Adriano's knees buckling against the hard-packed sand. Worse still was his attempt to "surf it off".
This shore-pounding resulted in multiple ligament tears, which necessitated a double-knee surgery. Since he was already out of the water, Adriano opted also to get a jaw surgery to fix a tooth issue he'd been struggling with for years. Meaning, all up, it's been eight months out of competition for the 2015 Champ.
But he's finally coming back! After missing Snapper, Bells, Keramas and Margs, we'll see Adriano de Souza in the jersey at his home-ish event—the Oi Rio Pro (Saquarema). The WSL announced today that Adriano will return to CT competition, alongside Caio Ibelli (who's taking Leo Fio's injury slot), Frederico Morais (who's replacing Mikey Wright), and Mateus Herdy, who bested Julian Wilson in his first wildcard bid at the Quik Pro D-bah.
Adriano's return brings another interesting element to the 2018 Tour. Having already missed four events, it will be difficult for de Souza to requalify through the top 22. However, because he didn't use an injury wildcard to earn a spot on the '19 Tour, Adriano remains eligible to use the injury card for 2020, should he need it. Considering ADS' status as a World Title holder, he's all but guaranteed to earn one of the two available injury wildcards for next year.
That leaves a question mark around Leo Fioravanti, who will likely spend a significant portion of the season laid up with a shoulder injury, and Mikey Wright, whose fate looks similar re: his back, who will both be vying for that second slot.
But we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. For now, let's welcome Adriano with open arms and see if he doesn't floater his way to a Brazilian victory. The lipline glide has made a big comeback in 2019, so another Title mightn't be out of the question for the Tour's favorite tradesman.