Touted by many as the best wave sailor at Ho’okipa, Marcilio ‘Brawzinho’ Browne narrowly missed out on his second wave sailing title when events did not go his way at the 2019 Aloha Classic. But with a new baby in his life and an epic winter season to look forward to, Brawzinho didn’t waste time dwelling on the past and rode his way into the new decade with some of most insane airs and hits ever witnessed at Jaws. With a car rental business also keeping him busy, as well as wave sailing clinics with his Goya teammate Levi Siver, John Carter sat down with the 30-year-old Brazilian to hear how he is living his best life!
Words Marcilio Browne // Photos John Carter
The 2019 Aloha Classic was not an event that worked out for me. I did not sail that great and it just was not a normal Ho’okipa situation. The wind was very light, there was a lot of current and a huge swell. Even with twenty-minute heats, time would pass really quickly the way it was on the water. From the moment you fell, it could easily take 15 minutes to be back in the lineup. With so much on the line it was hard to start taking risks at the beginning of the heat. It felt like I was out of sync with the conditions. I was waiting for a north peak set and it just never came. After my next wave I was swimming and lost many minutes. I felt like I only caught a few waves all competition. I feel like I hardly sailed at this event. I felt like I was swimming, trying to get past the rocks, trying not to sink or trying to not get a wave on the head. I would go sailing on a day like that, but it was the kind of day you really needed to take time to pick off the cherry waves. Maybe two waves an hour and avoid going on the rocks. The way it was we had to go on anything and risk breaking gear. Twenty minutes felt really short. We had to do it like that. It was not prime and clean Ho’okipa. The girls had a good day and it was ok for the juniors. It would be nice if the pros could have sailed in proper Ho’okipa and not just when it was huge when the other fleets could not make it out. Hopefully next year we get the prime of the forecast. That was nobody’s fault, it was just the weather. I am not complaining. It was good for the sport. I am sure people loved watching the guys go on the rocks in those survival conditions.
It could have been worse. I finished second overall for the season. I am happy with that. I obviously would have liked to be number one, but for the Aloha I just felt like I didn’t even sail the event. It was like a blank. Nothing much happened and I was swimming and getting pounded. It was not like the days and weeks before. It stings a bit at the moment but does not change anything in my life. I am going to keep doing what I do at the moment. I am happy with the year, second was still my second-best result in waves. It is so competitive with the crew of sailors that we have. It is even hard to make the top ten.
“I finished second overall for the season. I am happy with that.”
He was scary in the Aloha Classic. I was really happy when I saw him on the other side of the bracket. He is a really good down-the-line sailor. He knows Ho’okipa as well as anybody. He has spent a lot of time windsurfing and he is an incredible talent. It was great to have him in the contest. He not only raised the bar on the water, but he also brings all his followers to the event and increases the exposure for all of us. I hope he keeps on doing it.
I feel like a lot of guys have had good sessions there over the years – Polakow, Scott Carvill, Sierra Emory, Levi Siver and Kauli. As far as my own level, those sessions were by far the best ones I have had. I had a lot of fear when going for those big hits, but also lots of adrenaline. I did not really plan either! They kind of were just decided a couple of seconds before, pretty much as I was going into the bottom turn. The setup on those waves felt right and from there I didn’t think much more and just went for it. It wasn’t like in a heat where you have a game plan before you go out; my goal was just to be on sets and to ride them in the pocket. The reaction to those sessions has been really positive! It is really nice to receive positive feedback from people on social media and have them stoked for something I am doing.
I felt exhausted after those sessions, not as much physically, but mostly mentally. After two or three days of such high adrenaline and it finally stopping, it just made me feel tired, almost like a hangover! Jaws takes a lot out of you, not just the fear of riding those waves, but the whole mission: checking all your gear, jet-ski rides, rigging and de-rigging in the water, dealing with big crowds in the lineup and trying to perform your best! All of that requires focus at all times, so when it ends you definitely feel it. I still went for some mellow sailing sessions afterwards, but also spent lots of time at home and had extra sleep as well.
Nailing those airs was an amazing feeling, coming in full speed, being really close to wiping out hard and then making it. I was on a high of happiness and relief for a few days after as those were the best waves of my life and I am not sure if I will ever get better ones! So I will probably remember those sessions more than event victories when I am older! They were very special for me. When things go wrong at Jaws you can really get hurt and reality hits you quick. So, I will keep having major respect for that wave and only try things if they feel right at that time and if I don’t ever try it again that will be ok with me too. The most important thing is to come home safe.
Having the baby has changed things in a good way for me. Before, my wife Caitlin and I were both working, so we had to spend more time apart. It is really nice that we now all go together to certain events. For me everything about being a dad is positive. Caitlin is really supportive. Being a dad does not cut down any sailing time for me at all. If anything, the baby gives me a lot more perspective of what really matters to me. I think being a parent is only a really great thing. I think for the Canary Islands we will travel as a family because it is a long period of time I am there with all the training. If I am in Maui and I have to go to Sylt for ten days I think it is too much to put the baby through. It is expensive as well, for short trips it doesn’t make sense.
NORTH SHORE MAUI RENT A CAR
I always wanted to have something else going on as a backup to windsurfing. After I can’t compete anymore, I need something else as a backup. It is another source of income. It is fun for me because I own it with two really good friends – Robby Swift and Fernando Canuso. In ten to fifteen years down the line hopefully it will be something quite major and running better.
In Sylt, more than any place you need a caddy the most. Having Francisco there with his experience, knowledge and everything was so nice. He knew what to say at the right times and knew what gear I needed for my backup. I did not have to say anything he was just there with the right backup. He knew what to say to get me in a good state of mind also which helped. It was a special event for me to fight back and make the final and with him there it made it even better. I love being on the Goya team. Over the past ten years those guys have allowed me to live a dream life. I love working with them and they give me all the freedom to do what I want and work on the gear that I want to ride. In the end it is what we are all looking for anyway – faster boards that are better on the waves. When Francisco is away, I see Keith Teboul every day. We surf together and sail together. It feels like a second home and family and natural to work with these close friends that I see every day. I love it and would not have it any other way.
My mum and dad come to Maui twice a year and now maybe more because of the baby. They want to spend as much time with the baby as they can. They were here for the competition. My dad is a windsurfer and is a great fan of the tour. It was nice having him there to help me rig sails and he loved watching the event. Not just my heats, but all the action. He watches every heat of every event. My dad is a true fan.
For me I am living my dream from when I was a young kid learning to windsurf. Now I live in Maui and being a pro sailor is my job, it does not get any better than that. It is a special time in my life to enjoy. My ambitions now are just directed at my level of sailing. Every year I keep on trying to focus on my biggest weaknesses. I try to improve them. I am trying to improve certain moves in certain conditions. I want to try and just become an overall better sailor. It is great to get good results in the competitions and all that. My ambitions are more related to improving the things that are in my hands. In contests some things are out of your hands. I would rather have a goal on parts of my sailing that are direct and that I can work on. As long as my level is not stagnant, and I feel I am improving, that is what matters the most. At the end of each event I look at what could have been better and try and improve that aspect.
Usually when I am sailing, I am focussing on something – be it testing gear or working on moves. For me, having a reason to sail is fun. Just going back and forward can get boring. If I am sailing for a reason, I have something to look forward to and something to focus on. I always want to improve and get better. Even though I am pushing myself hard, I am having more fun. For me those two things are together, I feel like sailing for a reason helps me keep motivated.
Jumping I feel now just as comfortable on port tack as starboard. There might be a couple of jumps that I feel are even easier on port now after all my port tack training. Wave riding, I am still more comfortable on starboard just because of the amount of time I sail at Ho’okipa. This is my backyard. Ho’okipa is two minutes from my house and I sail here every day. I don’t get that much time on port tack wave riding. I love the conditions at Ho’okipa. It is down the line starboard tack, it is nearly always windy and I can sail in the morning, come home, eat lunch and go back for the afternoon or late session. It is very special to be able to live here.
I still like sailing quads. I have one or two thrusters for really terrible conditions, but other than that I think quads are the best boards. I am so used to them I guess that’s a way to simplify things for me and keep it easy for the events. A lot of boards have their place, even single fins and twin fins. It is more about the board itself than the number of fins that is important. A good board is what it is, if it is thruster or a quad. They may ride a little different, but the board shape is key.
I am thirty now, but things hurt more. For the past few years after a season in the Canary Islands I definitely feel more pain than the years before. I am a little bit older, but also the moves today are tougher on your body. I think the training for me is an injury prevention measure. I work out with Sarah Hauser, who is a qualified trainer. I don’t want to lift heavier weights or anything, it is just for quicker recovery, so that I can sail longer and avoid getting hurt. I want to prolong my career. I would love to have another 10 competitive years if my body allows me. Also, I feel better and when I sail, I can put more hours on the water. You end up having more time in the water and more fun.
There are so many places I still want to travel to and sail. In Ireland there are some breaks I would love to sail. Ross Williams has been telling me about a few breaks. There are some other islands in the Cape Verde area which have some sick waves. But I also like going back to my roots in Brazil in August and September when Maui is not the best. I grew up sailing there and can be in the water twice a day. There are not big waves, but I am jumping and riding side-on conditions. It is really fun, and I sail alone. That for me is a lot of fun. The wind is there every day and there is no big effort to sail. The spot is right there in front of you. I like that too sometimes.
I really enjoy spending time with my baby now. It is nice to see all the little developments. He is starting to understand little communications. When I am not sailing or surfing, I am usually hanging out with my son and wife. For me that is the most fun. We are family people from Brazil. Every day my son is learning and changing. So when there is something new I don’t want to miss it because these things don’t come back once you have missed them.
For me this is the most fun part of the year. I love competing, but in winter there is no stress and no trips booked. When you live right here a lot of the time there is no forecast and no wind predicted. In Maui though, with the two mountains, it can just blow at any time. I have my gear in the back of my truck and it can just pick up and we get Ho’okipa to ourselves. I can get two or three hours a day which are the best sessions of the winter. I really look forward to those days. You can have no expectations and then have the best days.
It is mostly Levi’s gig the clinics, but I always do the May one with him. Levi has three or four more. My schedule is a bit busy to do more. I am usually busy training. We have been growing it over the past few years and also learning how we can improve it. So far it has been fun. Most of the ones we have had epic windsurfing right after the crowds leave in April. Over head waves, 4.7 weather and all to ourselves. Most of the guys are quite advanced and you can see pretty quickly the things they can improve on when you sail with them. It is very satisfying to see them learn about sailing and general ocean knowledge. They learn how-to pick up sets, avoid the rocks and not to get in anybody’s way. They are learning from some pretty experienced sailors! It is nice when I see them stoked and we have made their windsurfing life a lot easier. Also, they learn where to place their gear when they get pounded, things like that all help and gives them more confidence to sail bigger and better conditions. Justyna Sniady came last year; she is super talented anyway. She was on a mission with her training and made the PWA podium overall which was amazing. I liked to see her step up. She put in the work last year and I love to see that. She went out of her comfort zone to get the results she did.
I don’t have too much pressure from Goya to post on Instagram every day. They are really mellow. But it does bring coverage to the brands as well as us as athletes. It is not what I love the most, but I keep it ticking over. I actually like following all my friends and seeing how people are doing and what they are up to. I like to see guys like Thomas Traversa post clips from his exploits. It is really interesting for me to see that. Also, for my friends back in Brazil I probably could do more, but I don’t like to overdo it.
I get filmed a lot and work mostly with Jake Miller who lives close by. It is really easy to work with him. I talk to him every good forecast and it helps me see everything. How the boards are working, aspects of my technique, hand positions and all the small details. Filming helps me confirm if I am doing things right on the water. It gives you the reality right there. If you know you are getting filmed, you are going to push yourself. You are paying for it and also you don’t want to get home and face a bad day. It just pushes me even more!