By Mike Latronic

The first time I had ever met Filipe Toledo was in Peru somewhere near 2011. He was all of 16 years old and could barely speak English at the time but that said my Portuguese was non-existent, save a few memorized phrases from several years of practicing capoeira. I had filmed and witnessed the teenager dismantle and destroy top juniors from all over the world with his patented speedy, determined and electric style. Filipe took the ISA World Junior win in the finals in pumping 3-5” Caballeros, Peru. Although our interview was a bit splintered by language differences, it was clearly evident that this kid was bound for greatness in the pro ranks.

Celebrated for his dynamic and progressive approach to the sport, Toledo developed a love for surfing at a young age, honing his skills in the waves of Brazil. His competitive career took off, and Toledo quickly rose through the ranks of professional surfing and became known for his exceptional aerial maneuvers, innovative tricks, and high-energy performances, Filipe has left an indelible mark on the surfing world and the story continues.

Photo Aaron Hughes/WSL

Over the past 12 or so years since then, Toledo has set speed and air records everywhere he performs. The Brazilian surfs with high energy, as is the signature of high level Brazilian athletes, but Filipe possesses an uncanny flow and familiarity with the ocean that is rare. Long before he won his first WSL title in 2022, I had marveled at the speed and flow Filipe generated and at times was certain the judges and the judging criteria simply did not or could not factor in the subtle differences in Felipe’s repertoire compared to the majority of other surfers on the tour.

Over the past few years Toledo has notably added some extra muscle in his game and the results speak for themselves.

Filipe Toledo, born on April 16, 1995, in Ubatuba, Brazil, is yet again the WSL men’s champ and there’s little doubt in my mind that he will be repeating this feat a few more times before he’s done.

ML: What you do on and above waves is amazing. Your flow is uncanny. When you paddle into a wave how much do you size up the whole ride or is it more of an impromptu, section to section?

FT: I think looking at the wave as a whole is good, but being unpredictable it’s what changes the game! So I try to work with what’s in front of me!

ML: Talk about your connection to the ocean rhythm. It seems sometimes that you are connected to both the wave and your equipment.

FT: Thanks! It’s a combination of all of that and my faith!
We are dealing with nature, and God is in control… so I trust Him! haha

ML: This gift you share with the world, it’s rare. Where do you find your inspiration and where do you evolve from here?

Photo Alan Van Gysen/WSL

FT: It comes from hard work, sacrifice and trusting the process. I do it for my family, my friends and also I have an amazing opportunity to share my testimony with people!

ML: There are certain things in life that all humans share, regardless of race, creed, color, or religion. A few are happiness, hunger, sadness, dancing, laughing and tears. Surfstoke is the same for those who know it!! How does surfing rate in your life and keep you stoked?

FT: Surfing is 100% part of my life! Every wave it’s a new chapter and a new opportunity everyday! I have the chance to be in an environment that brings me peace, happiness and gratitude everyday and I enjoy that.

ML: Congrats on the win! So many uber talented surfers on tour and once again you rose to the occasion. Tell me about some of your favorite rivals?

FT: I feel like this year everyone was surfing amazing and the levels were insane but my favorite moment of the year was my first heat with Ethan (Ewing) in the finals!

ML: What’s the plan this year to stay on top?

FT: I plan to enjoy the process and have a lot of fun!

ML: When you come to Hawaii can we paddle out to surf V-land together?

FT: I’m ready! Let’s do it legend!

WSL Champion Filipe Toledo after winning the 2023 World Title at the Rip Curl WSL Finals. Photo Pat Nolan/WSL

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