Unlikely Heroes Of The Volcom Pipe Pro: Weslley Dantas
Did you know Wiggolly had a brother?
I’ve never met Weslley Dantas in person, but if I had to describe him based off what I’ve seen in pictures and video, I’d do it like this: Weslley is a shorter, fatter version of his brother Wiggolly, with three-quarters of the power and five-times the air game.
I first became aware of Weslley while conducting Surfing Magazine’s 2016 Peer Poll. My job consisted of electronically polling hundreds of 18-and-under international surf stars on who was the Most Underrated, Best Tuberider, Biggest Ladykiller, etc. of the bunch. I then received all of their entries and tallied up the winners.
Much to my surprise, a kid by the name of Weslley Dantas showed up on both the lists of Most Powerful and Most Progressive — two categories that, in my understanding of surfing, were oftentimes categorically opposed.
So I did a little digging and found that, yes, Weslley was in fact Wiggolly’s brother, and yes, he did have both water-throwing and fin chucking capabilities. But to be honest, I didn’t give him much thought beyond that.
Then came Volcom’s Totally Crustaceous Tour International Finals. Held at Lower Trestles during a scorching south swell, this event showcased the world’s best under-18 surfers in remarkable conditions.
With a combination of lofty punts and vicious hacks, Weslley made the highly contested Pro-Am final against Griffin Colapinto and two other shredders whose names I don’t recall but add little value to this story. As waves pulsed through the lineup, all I remember is Weslley going left time and time again, attempting full-rotation punts into Lower’s famed air-wind. Despite his valiant (and remarkably nimble, for his size) efforts, Weslley missed his completions by mere inches every time. Meanwhile, Griffin took a more rail-heavy approach on the rights and secured multiple excellent scores.
Realizing his tactical error, Weslley took a right late in the heat and went absolutely ballistic — bisecting lips in a fashion all-too-familiar for a man named Dantas. I can’t recall the score he received, but it was definitely above an eight, and I remember thinking: 1. Weslley totally would have won if he’d gone right the whole time. And 2. This kid is fucking gnarly. Like if Wiggolly and Medina had a baby gnarly.
Which, I probably should have guessed he’d be a tube master as well.
At this year’s Volcom Pipe Pro, the 19-year-old Brazilian tackled the sometimes oversized, sometimes perfect Pipeline with the skill and certitude of a seasoned vet. He ended up placing third in the event, but more than anything, Weslley stamped himself as an all-around surfing talent and genuine CT threat.
Here’s what he had to say for himself.
Wes and his gal share a chair. Photo: @weslleydantas1
Stab: Weslley, congrats on the Pipe result! What a crazy few days. How are you feeling?
Weslley Dantas: Oh thank you, I’m feeling really good and confident after that result.
And what about going into the event? What were you expecting?
I don’t know, I was feeling good but with Pipeline you never know what you’re gonna get. I was just excited to surf out there with only a few guys.
Have you gotten good waves out there before? Or is it too difficult with the crowds?
It’s usually pretty hard to get waves at Pipe, but I’ve gotten two good ones before this event, and then a lot more in the contest.
So you’re only 19, and yet you look so comfortable in big, heavy surf. Do you have waves like this back home in Brazil that allow you to train for Pipeline?
No, not at all [laughs].
Then how did you get so good in heavy barrels?
I first came to Hawaii three years ago with my brother Wiggolly, and he told me, “If you want to be a great surfer, you have to surf Pipe.” He pretty much brought me out there, showed me where to sit and what waves to catch, and I put in as much time as I could. I try really hard when I’m in Hawaii.
Pipe is Wesley’s kinda wave.
So what’s next for you? Are you trying to make a qualification run?
Yeah, pretty much. I’m training hard with my Soul Surfers team (a surf team in Brazil) and I want to make the 2019 CT.
What makes you want to do the CT?
I’d really love to be on there with my brother. That would be amazing. He’s my favorite surfer, and he pretty much inspires everything I do. Also you get super barreled on the CT [laughs].
Are barrels your favorite?
Yes, definitely. But I really love doing airs too. I think my airs are definitely one of my strong suits.
What about turns? Would you say you’ve got that classic Wiggolly-style backside hack?
[Laughs] No, I think Wiggolly’s backside is still better than mine. But I’m getting there.
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