The first day of competition at the Iquique Para Todos 2015 ISA World Bodyboard Championship has wrapped up. 

Everybody, event staff and competitors alike, are exhausted and scatter from the contest site at Punta 1.  Not long after, I meet up with Coach Wendel Lopes and Socrates Santana from Team Brazil. 

We walk down the street for a few blocks until we reach the supermarket to do some grocery shopping.  We collect the items we’re looking for in our cart, checkout, and then decide to stop and play a game.  At the entrance of the store is one of those crane games where you try to line up a crane, drop it over your target, and try to win a stuffed animal.  Coach Wendel gives it a couple of tries to no avail.  Socrates steps up and, much like his first round heat in Under 18 Boys this morning, comes away victorious on his first try.

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Brazil’s Socrates Santana competes in the Aloha Cup. Photo: Sean Evans.

We walk back to Hostel Sunset, grocery bags in hand, and head upstairs to where the team is staying.  In the lobby, I sit down with five-time Women’s World Champion and two-time ISA Gold Medalist Neymara Carvalho to talk about Team Brazil. 

I start off by asking about the team’s disappointing result last year.  After winning back-to-back team titles at the WBC in Venezuela in 2012 and 2013, Brazil finished sixth overall with individual best results from Neymara (women’s Silver) and Socrates (under 18 boys Bronze) in 2014.  She nods emphatically in agreement.  “The main thinking of this group is to get the title back!”

This year’s team roster for Brazil is a powerhouse of talent.  Competing in the Open Men’s division is two-time ISA Gold Medalist Eder Luciano, who finished the 2015 APB World Tour ranked 13th. Joining Eder this year are 11th ranked Helliton Loureiro and 15th ranked Lucas Nogueira. 

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Brazil’s Eder Luciano runs to the water in the Aloha Cup. Photo: Sean Evans

For Dropknee, which has traditionally been a weakness for Brazil, the team recruited Brazil’s best DK ripper Daniel Alves. In the U18 girls Brazil brought in top up-and-coming amateur talent in the form of Victoria Moraes.  Returning to compete in the U18 boys is current Pro Junior World Tour Champion Socrates Santana.

Neymara Carvalho, a Gold Medalist in Durban, South Africa in 2002 as well as in Venezuela in 2013, returns to compete in the Open Women’s division.

We talk more about the team and how, because of the Brazilian economy, it’s difficult for many of Brazil’s top bodyboarders to travel.  Having to pay almost all of their expenses involved with travelling and competing keeps many bodyboarders from coming out to represent their country. This is a hard fact that resonates through a large part of the international bodyboarding community, not just Brazil. 

Still, this year’s team jumped at the opportunity.  Neymara smiles as she says, “They’re here for the experience.”  In return, I ask Neymara how she would feel if she were able to win a third gold medal in the women’s division.  “I would love to win another medal and have the opportunity to help my team.”  She admits that last year, after taking nearly two years off to pursue other personal interests, she was not at her best.  “This year, I feel like I can fight for the title.”

Our conversation turns to the topic of how Team Brazil has been spending its time here in Iquique.  Neymara laughs, half-jokingly stating, “There’s not a lot to tell.  We play cards.”  She then elaborates a little more about the team training and sharing meals together. 

Then she mentions, almost in passing, something that really stands out and impresses me. “Lucas leads us in group prayer every morning.”  I was not expecting to hear that, but I am not entirely surprised either.  As strong and determined as this group is, the fact that they are bound by faith only makes sense.  This team has a strong belief in one another as well as their primary objective: to reclaim the WBC team title.

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Competition for the 2015 ISA World Bodyboard Championship is scheduled to resume at 8am local time tomorrow.  Stay tune to www.isaworlds.com for continuing coverage.

In the Action is a special column by Steve “Action” Jackon as he gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the 2015 ISA World Bodyboard Championships in Iquique, Chile.

More In the Action articles:

Catching up with team Australia

Chile look to defend their title

France has their eye on the prize

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