Jadson Andre: Freedom From The Favelas
For Jadson Andre, surfing has always been more than just a fun activity. Like for so many other athletes who grew up in Brazil’s poverty-stricken favelas, succeeding as a professional meant a way out of the slums and to a better life.
But things never came easy for the smiley local from Natal, in the north of Brazil. After being “discovered” by Luis Pinga, Adriano de Souza’s manager, Jadson moved south to São Paulo to be closer to the industry and contest scene. Although tough on the fourteen-year-old, the move proved smart— in a matter of months, Jadson was going up against some of the best young surfers in the country and winning.
He adapted his high-speed surfing, molded in the tiny, windswept waves of Natal to the stronger waves of the south with ease, and seemed to lock in more turns per wave than any of his rivals.
Through the years he’s developed into a fierce competitor and could very well be the best representative of the “third world surfer”—an athlete that comes from nothing, but wants everything, and will never give up to achieve his goals. Jadson doesn’t care who he’s surfing against, he just wants to beat them.
After a stellar year on the WQS, where the won the 6-star Prime Event in Durban, Jadson already secured a spot on the 2010 WCT well before the season ended. “I feel confident I can perform at the top level,” he says. “There’s a lot to learn and experience goes a long way, but I don’t think anyone wants it as bad as me.”
Despite his confident approach, Jadson is yet to prove himself in big surf. He’s been traveling to Hawaii for a few years now, but still lacks strong results in waves of consequence. His strong points are speed and airs.
“Jadson had to overcome many challenges just to get where he is,” explains Brazil’s greatest surfer, Fabio Gouveia. “It’s not easy, even in Brazil, to be a black surfer from the northern states. He’s used to prejudice. He’s used to adversities. The WCT will only be another one for him, and although I’m not sure how he’s going to go at Chopes and Pipe in his first year, I believe he’ll be at the elite level for a while.”—Steven Allain