Adriano de Souza announces his retirement at the end of next year
In the surest sign yet that pro surfing will be cancelled next year, Adriano de Souza has announced 2021 will be his swansong season.
By accident or design, the 33-year-old they call Mineirinho was often denied the limelight.
ADS was the spiritual leader of the Brazilian Storm yet it was Gabriel Medina who was crowned the first Brazilian World Champ. Then, a year later when ADS finally won the world title, Kelly Slater threw shade on his glory by unveling his wavepool less than 24 hours later.
ADS qualified for the CT in 2006, and he was one of the very few surfers in the noughties who wasn't intimidated by Kelly Slater's presence. Their duels, however, weren't romanticised such as Slater's and Andy Irons' were, they weren't noble affairs that 'brought out the best in each other'. More often, sportsmanship was replaced by gamesmanship as each as surfer adopted a win-at-all-costs approach.
It first came to a head in Puerto Rico 2010, with Slater heading towards his tenth title while the pros and punters fawned. In a three-way no elimination round, ADS copped an interference from excess hassling, with Slater giving him a serve in the post-heat interview.
"No-one likes competing against him," said Slater, and it wasn't meant as a compliment.
The two again exchanged words at Trestles in 2011 when Slater, due to surf a heat after ADS, confronted him in the water about his excessive hassling of Taj Burrow. Later that year, ADS beat Slater in Portugal where he expressed no hard feelings, saying, “ [Kelly] is a living legend and to be competing against him at this level is more than a dream come true. He has pushed me more than any other surfer and I owe him a lot."
ADS's pluck was never more evident than in 2015 when he went into the last event, the Pipe Masters, rated third. There were six surfers with a mathematical shot at the title and, owing to a lean track record at Pipe, ADS had the longest odds. However, hassling wasn't the only way ADS got over the top of tough competition, he was also prepared to swallow humble pie.
Admitting he needed help, ADS stayed at Jamie O'Brien's house and employed him to improve his Pipe game. Even at 28-years old he was a willing student, and his sacrifice paid off winning both the world title and the Pipe Masters - one of the few surfers to do the double.
Later in his career, ADS was still willing to alter and improve his style, notably losing the double-pump bottom turn for single, extended arcs. It was an adjustment that, in 2013, helped him become the first Brazilian to win Bells. On the presentation stage, he rang the trophy with such gusto the bell broke.
About his forthcoming retirement, ADS said, "A number of things made me come to this decision, for the past 15 years, I gave my life to surfing and was completely dedicated. I lived surfing in a 1000% way. Competing without passion is not the attitude of a champion, and it doesn't match with the energy of the sport. Now I would like to try some other things, like being part of a special event without so much pressure or go on a surf trip with friends.”
Though history indicates that the coronavirus will throw shade on Mineirinho's retirement, we'd like to see the little fella's new and improved act one more time, or even just get up in the grill of a heavyweight.