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Multicultural drops in surf: “Fuck off Brazo’s!!”

Usual crowded line-ups on the Gold Coast, Australia. Marcus Brightmore.

Multicultural

Multicultural drops in surf: “Fuck off Brazo’s!!”

Number of Brazilian students peak amid concerns around surfing behaviours

“I think so… It’s related to surf. I’ve seen this written in another point” says Vitor Nassiffe referring to a graffiti in a famous surfing area on the Gold Coast, Australia. “It’s about the rivalry in surf”, says the professional surf photographer.

The photo was posted in the “Brazilians in the Gold Coast” group on Facebook and sparked a debate marked by criticism of Brazilian migrants around the behaviours of newcomers, especially international students. A few non-Brazilians also commented condemning the graffiti but relativising: “Why there is always a group of Brazilian guys who arrive to the peak trying to catch attention from everyone, talking so loud, trying to get all the waves and thinking they are all Gabriel Medina? I mean they are like: Hey look at me how good I surf I am the best one in the water. Come on guys, please try to chill…”.

Despite similar graffiti seen around other surfing spots in the region, it is hard to tell if it is directly connected to surf. It could well be from a bloke who lost his girlfriend to a “Brazo” charm. It could also be related to rivalry in the World Surf League, pointed by Victor, that will start in a couple of days on the Gold Coast. In any case, racism or not, the debate is set and it is not new. In fact, crowded line-ups are not a novelty in Australia, Bali, Brazil, Hawaii or in any other famous surfing hotspots around the world. A simple google search brings up hundreds of articles followed by comments that propose the constructions of sandbanks, more women in the surf, wave sharing and even surfing police to make the sport more enjoyable by all.

Snapper Rocks/ Marcus Brightmore

Snappers Rock/ Marcus Brightmore

Surf as marketing

The Gold Coast is set for cramped surfing conditions and international education might be one of the reasons. The number of international students is at an all-time high in Australia registering 621k in 2017. It is the third largest exporting industry responsible for more than 21 billion dollars in 2016. The latest figures of the Department of Education count more than 10k new Brazilian enrolments in QLD alone out of the 33k around the country in 2017, just behind China and Nepal. And make no mistake, what brings Brazilian students to Australia is not exactly learning English with an Australian accent and the quality of vocational training in marketing or massage. It is the lifestyle. In this powerful industry, surfing, the Opera House and kangaroos are the stereotypical selling points of Australia as a destination.

According to Marcus Brightmore, more people in the water will necessarily cause some conflicts. However, it would be good to educate both sides. As a Brazilian who has been here for a decade and who made many good Australian friends, it is hard to hear the complaints about the noisy gatherings in the water or wave hogs. At the same time, he thinks that some of the locals could also loosen up a bit. “There are people who think they own the spot, that they have the right to be rude and shut people out. I remember a couple of years ago when I accidentally dropped in somebody’s wave. After a while, I paddled next to him and said ‘Sorry, man. I did not see you’. To Marcus’ surprise that surfer was Mick Fanning, the “White Lightning”, who looked at him and said: “Too easy”.

 

Broken Head, Byron Bay/ Jeff Dawson

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Links used in this piece in order of appearance:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/195086180685747/permalink/787897814737911/

https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Documents/MONTHLY%20SUMMARIES/2017/Nov%202017%20MonthlyInfographic.pdf

http://www.swellnet.com/news/surfpolitik/2016/04/08/it-time-rethink-rules-surfing

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-22/record-number-of-international-students-in-australia-in-2016/8291284

https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Documents/INTERNATIONAL%20STUDENT%20DATA/2017/2017Oct_0712.pdf

Brasil Central Radio is developing a more in-depth story to understand better the multicultural relationships in the surf. Click below to help.

 

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Brasil Central's editor in chief. Former SBS (Australia) and TV Educativa (Brasil), he is a contributor to FairFax Media on Brazilian affairs. Alex holds bachelor degrees in Journalism, Social Sciences and a post-grad in Public Policies and Gender.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ricardo

    March 8, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    It’s all about the behaviour you have in and out of the lineup.
    Unfortunately, many of us will pay the bill. The reality is, we (Brazilians) are not in our home-country, this is not our beach, this is not our backyard, and as we use to say “here it’s not mother-in-law’s house”.
    Watch your behaviour and manners; you will enjoy a happy journey in the Aussie land. Otherwise, take your stuff and go back.
    I don’t want to be ashamed to say “I’m Brazilian” and I wish that my children would say “my dad is Brazilian and he is a very cool guy, they came from Brazil years ago, we love Brazzo’s culture, soccer, rhythms …”, and they friends go, “that’s awesome, I’d love to know more about Brazil”.
    I think we’re the business card and the best “propaganda” of our country.

    • Avatar

      Julio

      March 8, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      I totally agree with you Ricardo. Ive been surfing for over 30 years and have travelled a fair bit around the world I know that we Brazilians carry the burden of a very bad reputation in most line ups because os this awfull habit in travelling in packs. Most of Brazilians unever surfed a point break or a reef break because most of the surfing in Brazil are done in beachies where you fight for a shitty wave and they have no idea how to behave in a line up. Actually dont even understand that there is a LINE up.
      Most people dont even know how to behave in life….Anyways, not justifying or excusing. It is sad and I share the same feeling. Most of my latest surf trips Ive done on my own so I would make sure that the hassle factor would be based upon my own and only behaviour. We are in Oz and wont be ever seen as locals. Fair enough. Actually being a local is much more than just having an attitude in the water…is looking after the beach and the community that lays around it. Surfing became way too big and you need to travel and search even further to find good waves and keep the true spirit of the sport.

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