interview with Christian

Christian is the man. Many of you probably know the jovial, smiling Brazilian hellman, as he's one of the most friendly, sociable guys around. He can often be seen charging double-overhead wintertime bombs in the middle of the beach. He's the guy out there when you drive by thinking, "who the hell is out there on this gigantic, disorganized morning?" Christian charges at whatever he's doing, whether it's surfing serious days at Mavs, or negotiating huge international business deals all over the globe. The guy speaks about 10 languages and has gotten deep barrels in places that you've never even heard of. Even though he's been surfing for over 20 years and is a dad and maintains an insane work schedule, the guy has the surf-stoke of a little grom who just caught his first ride down the line. Christian feels a deep, personal love for the art of surfing and it oozes out of him whenever you start talking about the sport of kings. His love for surfing is infectious and inspiring. Next time you see a light-footed Brazzo ripping it up at the beach, then smiling on his way back to the lineup, give him a wave and say hi. The dude rips.

E: You grew up and learned to surf on the famous Ipanema beach in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Can you tell us a bit about what it's like there and what the surf scene is like in Rio?
Christian: Ipanema is a magical place and culturally very dynamic. This is the crib of Bossa Nova music, where seduction and romance live together surrounded by dramatic rocky mountains, an intense urban jungle and the beautiful Atlantic (with occasional perfect barrels). After surfing you just hang out with your friends at the beach in the "quiosques"(little tents that serve snacks, juices and beers) exchanging the surfing highlights of the day, discussing soccer and politics or just chilling while doing some people watching. For sure, several "the girl from Ipanema" contenders might jog by you.


E: How about the ladies down there? Men the world over rave about the Brazilian arse... fantasy or reality?
Christian: Reality - what else can I say? Let me see. Sorry, I got no sisters.

E: You've traveled and surfed all over the world. You've been to Indo 9 times, Sri Lanka, Peru, Japan, etc. Do you have one or two surf-related highlights that come to mind from your travels?
Christian: In Sri Lanka, on my way to a J'Bay style right (not Arungan), in the middle of Tamil Tiger territory, suddenly my bus stopped. The driver started to scream and freak out. I thought we were about to be massacred in a guerrilla ambush, but instead we had a giant elephant refusing to leave the road. If you have an isolated elephant like that, it can be super dangerous. The animal will attack you if you give a chance and our micro bus had no reverse gear. We all had to be quiet and wait for passage. 5 hours later when the sun arrived, we finally proceeded. Hours later I was facing a perfect right walling for 300 yards with no one on it. I surfed this place just with another person (ozzie mate) for 2 days until the swell died. Also, I will never forget all the places that I surfed alone and had a bunch of kids going crazy on the shore and mobbing me after my sessions. Imagine the children of a dense populated country such as Bangladesh seeing a creature in the ocean gliding on waves. In South Korea, I also experienced some stuff like that when I surfed this resorty stretch of coast in the middle of a snowy winter day. It was a national holiday and the thing was packed. When I left the water, kids were throwing sand to the air (mixed with snow). The waves were very good and I was fine for more than one hour on my 3mm wetty with hood and booties. I will never forget this evening. Surfing Lake Superior and Seagaia (ocean dome in Myazaki - Japan) was pretty interesting too. I never expected to surf any body of water other than the ocean. Now I need to pay a visit to my homeland and score some Amazon's tributaries during Pororoca.


E: Any places that you still want to go?
Christian: Too many! I would love to spend 2 years driving a Land Rover around Africa. In order to get ready for that, I wouldn't mind practicing my off road skills going all the way home by car. Who knows? One day I will do that for sure, but need to take care of other responsibilities for now. I also would love to explore places on the northern hemisphere located on high latitudes (New Scotia, Norway, Kurile Islands and others) and on the other end of the spectrum, countries on the bottom of the Arabic Peninsula (Yemen and Oman). I wonder too a lot about waves that break on smaller seas that I haven't surfed yet, such as the Black and Caspian Sea. Gezz, now I started to go off scale with my dreams here. Gimme a teleport or let me go to the next question.

E: You're trained in Jiu-Jitsu (Brazilian martial art). Has that knowledge and training influenced your surfing and/or your mental approach to surfing?
Christian: Mentally, it helps a bit when you are exposed to a competitive arena. For example, when you end up surfing a crowded place (I try not to) you can stay pretty relaxed. When you are relaxed, you smile, emit good energy and consequently avoid bad vibes. If the negative vibes still persist and continue coming to me from the same individual, I try to stay away from it and find my peaceful space in the line up. As for fitness, back in the day when I used to practice, it helped me a bit as a cross training activity, but I don't know how much though. I think surfing OB and dealing with its different faces helped me more with my surfing stamina. Few years ago, I read that Rickson Gracie went to Tavarua and bailed on a 10'ft perfect day because it was too much for him. He was super humble about it and just said he was scared.

E: You've had some success coaching surfing. Jacqueline Silva attributes much or her success at the Cold Water Classic and Maui invitational 2 years ago to your tutelage. Do you have any universally-helpful coaching tips for the niceness crew?
Christian: Focus on one thing at a time. Understand your limits and envision how you could push it to the next level. I see a lot of people (not only kids) that can barely go down the line trying to do aerials. Evolution can mean a simple improvement on your paddling. I am still trying to work on that after 27 years in the water. Regardless of the kind of boards you ride, try to envision what kind of line you want to draw on the wave and think how you can do that building and maintaining speed. Pretend that you are a car racer learning how to make the best use of a race track. Same idea! Before getting in the water, observe the waves and think about where you want to go down the line on each wall or cylinder.

On contest stuff, it's a whole different story. It is all about scoring points and simple strategies. So many great surfers can't advance on easy heats.




E: Describe the best maneuver(s) you've ever pulled. don't be shy.
Christian: Some very long Indo barrels.

E: Do you have a favorite wave or an all-time session?
Christian: When I first moved to Japan, I had no idea that the area that I resided had waves. It was not located on the Pacific side. So, after a little research, I heard that there was a surfing community in a city called Karatsu, 1 hour (by car) from my new home. By looking the map I thought it was a bit weird but I kept my hopes alive. I was actually planning on getting a car and drive across Kyushu to surf in Myazaki, where I knew there were incredible waves. Anyway, 2 weeks after my arrival, this huge typhoon hit my mini town and almost destroyed my little home. Next morning it was sunny and beautiful and I decided to explore. I got in the train and after 4 connections and 2.5 half hours I arrived in Karatsu. Nobody new shit about surfing but one old man. He told me to get in a bus across the station and go to this beach which I can't remember the name (ya right!). With a map on my hands I started to track all the little bays in route to my destination. I saw perfect head high waves on this gorgeous sandy beach and started to cry. I knew that spot was super protected by looking to its position on the map and the fact that it already had that size....oh my Buddha!

Few minutes later I was at the final stop. As soon as I left the bus, I heard thunders. My heart started to TUM TUM TUM TUM TUM and I rushed to the top of this little hill. I could not believe what I had in front of my eyes. HUGE CONDITIONS! I just couldn't understand how a little body of water such as the Sea of Japan could produce waves that big. It was messy though. Not good, but definitely surfable if you had a bigger board (I did not). I decided to give it a go when this super friendly Japanese surfer approached me and asked where I was from. When I said Brazil he was like ....gaijin san...burajiru jin...sugoi. "I will taku you to secretu supotu". He meant...foreigner! brazilian! Cool. I will take you to a secret spot. We then went by this little road of course through rice pads terraces until we hit this cliff. Down the cliff I had a similar view of the Uluwatu monkey temple. Perfect lefts were thundering and going down and around the corner. I started to cry again (I was living in Washington DC before moving to Japan)and scream. We all screamed! Wooohoooo!!! SAIKO!!! Once we got down the bottom through a "big sir style" path, I had in front of me one of the best waves I had ever encountered in my whole life. We had 4 other guys with us and they started shitting on their pants right away. Most of the Japanese dislike conditions bigger than head high. The sets were DOH but beyond perfection. There were 3 full on barrels to be had in 3 different sections of the wave. It was a mellower and shorter version of Ulus, but just as perfect. I ended up surfing for 2 hours only with the guy that I met first, since the others bailed. Later, new faces showed up but only my new friend was going for the sets. I surfed for 7 hours until I had no more arms. I had the best session of my life right there. Next morning it was perfect again but only head high. My new friend turned out to be a local legend who owned a little reggae café bar in the near by town. Together we surfed many magic days like that, but nothing like this first one. We also pioneered few tiny islands spots that broke perfect with the right typhoon direction.



E: What do you think of the surf scene here in the bay area compared to other surf communities?
Christian: Pretty mellow! We probably have the most educated surf community in the whole world. We have some brats here and there but so does every other urban area with waves. Most of them are inoffensive and have an attitude due to their own insecurities or peer influence. It is amazing though how crowded OB has gotten in the last few years, principally on small sunny days. But what can we do? The beach is for everyone and you just have to deal with it the best way you can. I just don't like when I have people on my way all the time. I feel like practicing surfing slalom some times. No biggie though. On days like that I just try to lower my expectation and enjoy. Like I said, the beach is for everyone and there are plenty of days throughout the year with no one out or.

E: Your girlfriend, Anastasia, is herself an accomplished surfer. Does the love that each of you feel for surfing result in mutual inspiration and a heightened feeling of togetherness? How has surfing affected your relationship?
Christian: I get inspired by seeing her stoke and achievements as an ocean lover that learned how to surf at the age of 30. Today she charges conditions that most of the people rather be in the lot. She goes through hell at OB to make it out sometimes but she always makes it. Her late drops blow my mind. Surfing together can be tricky though. It drives me nuts when people drop in on her just because she is a girl taking off deep. She always makes it. Due to problems like that we prefer to surf different spots at the beach, if it's crowded. In general we have different taste but we always want to surf together. So, someone has to compromise, which is never easy. We are working on it though and trying not to argue over this anymore. After all, you just have to do the work, like on any other challenge of a relationship, to keep it healthy and alive. We try to be good listeners and understand each other needs.

E: In the best-case-scenerio, where do you see your surfing in 5 years?
Christian: More comfortable on bigger waves and more flexible on tiny conditions (getta start yoga). I love surfing super small conditions and would like to get lighter to continue having fun on them. Towing in might be a possibility. We will see.

E: Favorite surfer?
Christian: Occy. We even share the same bday, along with Jay Moriarty (one of my favorites too for his big wave skills, smile and humble attitude). Locally, I have to go for my compatriot, bro and roommate Alex Martins. The guy can surf anything from half inch to giant Mavs. His charging capabilities are as big as his humility.

E: You have a beautiful, rambunctious 5 year-old son named Nicolai (Nico). Any fantasies of grooming him to be the next Neco Padaratz?
Christian: Nah! But I do dream about going on surfing trips with him or just sharing the stoke with the little guy on the backyard of some eventual property that I would like to own somewhere here or in Brazil. But who knows? If he turns out to be a ballet dancer, I will be in the first row of any presentation that he takes part proudly applauding his acrobatic moves. As long as he is happy, I am super duper stoked. Love the kid.

E: Any final words for the niceness crew?
Christian: Enjoy every minute of your life and have a niceness day.


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