“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.
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”.
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