World Surf League/Kelly Chester

He’s known as “the eye of the Brazilian storm.”

Adriano de Souza, a 28-year-old Brazilian, recently climbed to the top of the professional surfing world, clinching the No. 1 ranking. The achievement marks a new milestone for a wave of Brazilian surfers emerging as a potent force in a sport long dominated by Americans, Australians and South Africans.

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Long a dominant global soccer powerhouse, Brazil last year celebrated the crowning of the country’s first world surfing champion, when 20-year-old Gabriel Medina took home the honors. Adding to the rise in Brazil’s surfing prowess is Filipe Toledo, a 19-year-old who won the first event of this year’s surfing tour. The trio of surfers are at the forefront of what has become known as “the Brazilian storm.” And De Souza is right at the center.

Check him out on the water:

Of the 34 surfers on this year's championship tour, seven are Brazilian, leading Surfer magazine to recently ask, “What in the world is in the water down in Brazil?”


The magazine added, “The turbo-charged atmosphere that surrounds their surf scene is producing some of the best competitors in the world."

De Souza is already a trailblazer for top level Brazilian surfers. In 2004, he won the World Junior Championship in Australia, and years later became the first-ever Brazilian surfer to hold the top spot in the professional rankings.


Now that he's back on top, De Souza is hoping he can help Brazil achieve its first back-to-back world champions.

“Right now, I just feel humble and hopeful,” De Souza told Surfer recently. “It would be great for my country to have another world champ. I think Brazil has been on an amazing road … it’s as good a moment as ever for another Brazilian world champ. But there's still a long way to go.”

Renato Hickel, deputy commissioner for the World Surf League, said the success of the Brazilians is also good for the sport in general.


"The audience and number of surfers are increasing all over the world because of their successful campaign," he said. "The Brazilian surfer talents are on the same level as the best ones in the world."

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Sabrina Passos is a journalist who coordinates special projects for a Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora.