Words by Elliot Struck
In his signature style of communication, Noa Deane describes his first impressions of Brazil after leaving the airport as thus: “You know how when you get off the plane in a new place, you look at how much stuff there is around? In Brazil I started looking at stuff, and I was like, fuck, there’s a fair bit of stuff here.” Laughter follows and if you’re unfamiliar with Noa’s bizarre (and excellent) wit, here’s a translation: Rio, to junior Deane, was an overwhelming assault to the senses on first impression.
It was Noa’s first time in the country. He spent some of the earlier parts of 2015 hanging at World Tour locations with fellow Rusty teamer Josh Kerr, starting at Snapper, then Margaret River, and finally, Rio. “I felt weird around the contest,” says Noa. “Kerrzy had already dragged me to like two contests before, and… I was just awkward, more than anything. As it would be if you said ‘Fuck you’ to someone and then had to spend time around them. So that was already playing on my mind. But I woke up the first morning and we were deadset straight across from the contest. I had a meltdown. The beach commentator was just screaming on the mic, the surfing was on the TV and those commentators were screaming, then I’d go outside to get some fresh air and there’s all these people on the balconies around us screaming at the surfing. There was no escaping the intensity of it.”
“Once we left Rio we went to an island which was super sick,” Noa continues. “There was a jail on it, where a guy blew the roof off and got helicoptered out of there, a full Escobar-style prison escape. We went on Kerrzy’s mate Lorenzo’s boat. We did a bit of wake surfing on the way out, and then when we got out there, there was this little right (3:06). It was too low when we got there, but when the tide came in, it was so, so fun. Kerrzy and I surfed it for a couple of hours. It was really tricky, the rip was gnarly. But it was sick that there was no one out there.”
I ask Noa, as people who write about surfing are wont to do in 2015, about the reception in Brazil as a professional surfer. “They were really mellow!” Noa almost cheers. “That whole place is so many different packages in one. At some spots there’s no rules. You paddle around people and they don’t get bummed. Which I think is super weird. But what I realised is that while 10 in 100 Brazilians that come to Snapper are super annoying and aggro, over there all the locals were chillers. Heaps of them were legends. Especially once we got out of Rio. All the crew down at Ubatuba were sick. There were a few guys that were just frothing, but there were a few guys happy to just chill, give you waves and watch you surf.”
“There’s such a massive interest in surfing there now,” Noa continues on the topic. “I heard a few people say that it might be because they lost the world cup. Everyone was bummed about it and they’re so passionate about having a winner, so because Gabriel (Medina) won something, he’s the guy. If we lost the Cricket ashes here in Oz, and Mick (Fanning) won the world title, there’s no way the guys down the pub who don’t surf would be going “Yeah, Mick!”
After the island, it was back to Rio – but for a different experience to the WSL event site. “We went to Copacabana, which was pretty cool, but pretty wild; They go pretty mad, they get lit the fuck up. You know when you’re all hungover and want to have a little quiet time to regather? Even just when you’re overwhelmed or tired and want to regather yourself? You can’t get that in Rio. Even at a restaurant, everyone’s just yelling at each other, there’s just so much passion. In Oz, everyone’s trying to be super quiet, but there everyone’s yelling across the table having a hell time.”