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Marcilio Browne & Ricardo Campello share their experience of the wave world title decider in Maui, Hawaii, which turned into a rollercoaster of polar opposite emotions.

Words: Marcilio Browne & Ricardo Campello

Photos: John Carter


Pre-event was great. I was busy with my kids and we had plenty of sailing, which made it easy for me to keep my mind off of the event. Ricardo [Campello] had the lead, so I wasn’t under the same pressure. I knew I had a shot at the title, but I felt the pressure a lot more last year. I knew that if things were going to happen for me that I was going to have to get ahead of him at some point in the event, so I was mentally preparing for that moment a lot. The chance presented itself when he lost in the first semifinal of the single elimination, so I was in the next heat and really had to make that one. I am glad I sailed a good heat in that round because I think that was the key moment in the race for the world title.

After the single was completed, a lot of people were telling me the contest was done based on the forecast, but you can never trust that. Once the double got underway, Ricardo made his first heat and things were getting exciting. I was just trying to keep busy and focusing on getting my gear ready to go. Once Ricardo was out of the double, my friends started telling me i had the title, so I felt this huge pressure release and happiness. It was such a great sensation. I had about half an hour of celebrating and then I went to get ready for my next heat against Camille [Juban] to try and defend my podium spot.


The situation was extremely rough for Ricardo. When I lost in Fiji, he was the guy I was rooting for because he is my good friend and by then I thought I didn’t have a chance anymore. Out of the guys that don’t have a wave world title, he is probably the most deserving. When I won in Pozo I saw that I had a shot again, so obviously I wanted to win it for myself from then on. But I know exactly how Ricardo feels. I had the same thing happen to me here in 2019. I was in the title race with Philip Köster and they just needed to finish the opening round of the double, but they only got halfway, so I lost the title in that way, which of course hurt a lot. I know how he feels. It sucks and I don’t want him to feel any worse, but that’s just sport, and that’s the reason why those wins feel so special when they do happen. We both had to go out, do our best and whatever happens, happens… I am over the moon and it’s so nice when all that hard work pays off. Achieving 4 world titles is nothing short of a dream to me.


I had a bad start to the season, which in a weird way sort of worked out for me. I was training really hard before Fiji and Japan, but when we went to Fiji I had a shocker and finished last. I was really bummed out because I felt at that moment that my year was already done. I just flew home because I knew I wasn’t going to be sailing much anymore and I wanted to be with my kids. In Fiji, there were either too many surfers, or there were heats running, so there wasn’t much opportunity for free sailing. I was not in the best mind space and felt like my year was finished. I was okay with it after a while and just accepted that that is the way it goes sometimes. It completely took the pressure off me.


By the time Pozo came around, I had no expectations and started really enjoying my sailing while I was there. My year was done and I could just enjoy it. The lack of pressure paid off with my result and I won the contest. The year was all of a sudden back on, so I decided to fly to Peru to try and claw back some extra points, just in case Sylt didn’t happen. In the end, Sylt did happen, so the points I picked up in Peru turned out to be irrelevant. However, at that stage, I couldn’t afford to not go to Peru, just in case. I made a big plan to take the family to Brazil and go from there, which required a lot of moving around and organisation, but I did not want to have any ‘what ifs’ at the end of the year. If I lost out on the title and knew that Peru might have made a difference, I wouldn’t have been able to live with that.


Sylt was rough for me because I was with my family and we all got super sick. We didn’t sleep well for many nights and it took us time to recover from that. Back in Maui, at least I was at home and feeling comfortable. It takes the weight off the contest because you are in your routine and if you lose, at least you are at home already.


The Goya crew really helped me. Those guys have so much experience and have been in the game for a long time. They all offered me advice, and then you can pick what you think is correct. It was awesome support and I felt like they totally had my back. Nowadays, I feel totally at home in Maui, even more so than Brazil. I have spent so much time here and really feel connected to this place.


With my gear, I was not messing around with anything. I pretty much rode my normal Ho’okipa board. I just ride one size here most of the time, which is an 88 litre and paired it with a 5.3m for most of the event. The board I rode is my magic board and I also ride it with 4.7m and 5.0m. I tried a bigger board, which felt good, but here in Maui, it is not like Europe. I feel like it is a lot easier to get upwind and float in Maui, whereas I wouldn’t be able to ride a 5.3m on that board in Denmark, or Germany, in similar winds to what we had during the contest. In Maui, it feels like you float a little more and have more mobility, so I was able to ride the board I love. The board is the evolution of a board I have ridden for many years. The file for this board probably started eight years ago, and since then we have just been making tiny modifications to it over the years. The board I rode is a magic one. It lives in my garage and I only take it out for contests. I feel super comfortable with it.


This title was different compared to the other two wave titles. It just felt a lot more relaxed as I wasn’t thinking about it for the whole year. Last year, when we finished Cape Verde and Bernd [Roediger] was in the lead, I knew he wasn’t going to go to Pozo, and Philip [Köster] had a bad result in Cape Verde, so that instantly put the weight on my shoulders as I knew I had a chance straight away. That feeling weighed on me for the entire year… from the moment Cape Verde was finished. It was a heavy weight to carry and I was really tired by the end of that year. This year, until Pozo, I wasn’t even thinking about the title. After Pozo, I knew I had a slight chance, but there was no need to freak out. I just went out and sailed, and I think crucially, I had a lot more fun this year!


Well, for the fourth time I am second, while I have also been third two times as well, so I have been pretty close over the years to fulfilling my dream. This season, I think I put my heart into it more than ever, but in the end, it didn’t go my way. I am always so unlucky when it is super close. We had very difficult conditions at the Aloha with light winds and very inconsistent, small waves, so it didn’t favour my style. I do have to say that in the heat that I lost in the double, I wasn’t happy with the scores. I think every single person I spoke to on the beach afterwards told me I should have made it through that heat, and if I did, and then advanced through one more, I would have been world champion. Back in 2018, it was similar as I was in a heat with Thomas Traversa and lost by 0.3 of a point or something, which cost me the title. Anyway, that chapter has passed now and it is time to flip the page!


I received a lot of love and support from everyone, and to me, this was something remarkable. I think I have never felt so much love and support from people around the world during the twenty years of my career. This to me is as good as a world title and I will never forget it, so thank you to all of you who have supported me.


Braw is a top athlete and we have been rivals for over fifteen years. Since the early freestyle days we have always pushed each other to be better and to win; he is extremely dedicated, passionate and is an amazing talent, so this title is well deserved. He always pushes me to be a better athlete and to rip in all possible conditions.


In the end, second is not bad, after all, I am still fighting for the title at the age of 38! Honestly, I feel better and better on the water, but I am not sure if I am going to keep competing yet… part of me says I should, but part of me is tired and wants to do other things! My wife really wants me to keep going and all of my followers and fans are also pushing me to compete for another year, but I am not sure, I still need some time to decide.

It will also depend on my sponsorship situation as well, as Naish have new owners, so I am not sure what they are planning. I need to meet up with them and see because obviously, money is a big part of everything. So, let’s see.

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