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After a rough end to the 2009 year, I had no idea what surprises 2010 would bring me. I wasn't going to make it to my homeland for the 2010 soccer world cup which was to say the least a little disappointing. I was sitting at home one afternoon when I heard the oh so familiar ring tone of Skype on my laptop. I answered the call and on the other end of the line was the COO of Wave Loch, Marshall Myrman. This was the first time I had been told the FlowRider Mobile was on its way to Brazil for a 4 month long promotional tour for Kraft. Four events on four different beaches in Brazil. My first thought was, WOW! I sat back on the couch, looked up at the ceiling and ran the scenario through my head: good waves, beautiful beaches, flow riding, summer time. This was a journey into the unknown that i couldn't turn down.
My journey began in the city of Sao Paolo, which was about a 10 hour plane ride from Texas. Wave Loch technician Zak Tolli would be joining me in a week and would be my right hand man on this adventure. As I entered the airport greeting area, I noticed a man holding a sign with my name on it. I headed for this stranger and too my surprise and joy he greeted me in English. My Portuguese is nonexistent. It turns out that Pedro is one of the project coordinators of the tour and was my no. 1 go to man. It wasn’t long before we became friends as he was my unofficial translator, a vital asset in a country where no one speaks English. My first real experience as a Gringo was shopping in a mall. I walk into a store and ATTEMPT to communicate with a salesman but the guy looks at me with a default blank look and nods his head from side to side. He then runs around the store asking any-one if they speak English to come help me. I stand there feeling like my pants have dropped to my ankles. Out of place and no idea how to fix it. I leave the store empty handed and once again, I look up at the ceiling and think to myself, is this what 4 months of Brazil is going to be like?
After a few days in Sao Paolo, and reunited with Zak, the team that would make this tour happen jumped into a van equipped with a DVD player and some very needed aircon and headed to the city of Guaruja which is where we would kick off the 4 month tour.
Traffic in Brazil is ridiculous. and everything takes twice as long as it should. I kept noticing how poor this country was. There are hundreds of buildings closely built next to one another looking like dilapidating relics that had been there for thousands of years. These broken down neighborhoods would be separated by lush green forests with waterfalls in the distance. Nothing like I had pictured. The one thing I was right about was the beaches. The first event was setup directly on the sand which was a first for the Mo Flow. The beach would stretch for as long as the eye could see and was packed with tourists and locals.
I had ridden the Mo Flow hundreds of times in the past, but never considered how it was put together. After hours and hours of digging and pushing and a lot of horse power, we finally got the Mo Flow positioned on its foundation about 50 meters from the waters edge. Zak took me under his wing and showed me the in’s, outs, up’s and downs of this unique machine. By the evening, I felt as if I had been run over by a bus. My hands were sore, my body was covered in grease and sand and I had been burned to the point where applying sun block just made the pain worse. This was my first day? I woke up the next morning wondering if i had made a huge mistake but once I had some momentum all doubts were gone. Building something that you know will give you enjoyment fuels your motivation and completing the structure gave us an incredible sense of accomplishment. It was now time to have fun on our toy.
The people who came through to ride the Mo Flow, as it's nicknamed, had such a blast and the smiles we helped make happen were as much a reward as anything else. This being the first event, it was no surprise that there would be some bumps in the road, but in the end it was a success and much knowledge was learnt to improve the next stop.
It took 2 days to dis-assemble the MoFlow and once we had it safely stored away we embarked on a 2 day journey down the south coast of Brazil. Choosing not to fly (still not sure why) the team jumped into the van and headed for our destination. After about 11 hours and losing roughly a quarter of our collective body weight in sweat, we reached our second location, Barra De Lagoa, located on the island of Florianopolis. As if we weren’t close enough to the water’s edge at the last location, we managed to get even closer. The set up is on a dirt sand lot normally used for parking and literally about 30 meters from the water’s edge.
Things were looking good! I had my custom shaped Luke Budd surfboard ready for its virgin salt water voyage and potential swell coming in. Day 1 setup went extremely smooth as the team became more familiar with the nuts, bolts and huge amount of steel which make up this humongous 3d puzzle. Unfortunately the hot sun was not on our side as the temperatures reached around 37 degrees with extreme humidity. Water bottles were flying left; right and centre to make sure all the crew were well quenched. A small break to dip in the cool water didn’t hurt either. Hundreds of on looker’s gazed from the beach wondering what monstrosity had arrived on the shores of Floripa and it was not long before the on switch was activated and like a well written book the Mo Flow delivered....
As expected, the Barra Da Lagoa stop went great. Not surprising as this was the stop that would take place during the infamous Brazil carnival. Although the main part of the carnival is in Rio, Brazilians are not people who let an opportunity to party slip by. This 5 day festival is a whirlwind of dancing, live music and the celebration of life. The first night we all made our way into the local party scene nearby the MoFlow’s setup site. As we got closer the sounds of drums, symbols and cheering got louder and louder. We arrived at this street party where a local samba band consisting of about 40 members were jamming. Zak and I were on the outskirts gazing in wide-eyed. After a couple beers and a Caipirinha we headed home to get some sleep. The next few days were going to be busy for the MoFlow.
Our second stop was incredible, the vibe at the event site was permanently maxed out with the crowd in the stands singing and cheering for the MoFlow warriors as they battled for backpacks and prizes which were awarded to the most impressive riders. The locals were leaving their day jobs to try conquer the learning curve of Flowboarding. I was chatting to one guy and he was saying that he was screening calls from work just to come down and hang out at the event all day. It doesn’t take long before you get sucked into this unique adventure.
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The next stop is Joaquina, which is only about a 10 kilometer drive from Barra, and is well known for its great surf and beautiful scenery, so my flowboards and surfboards are packed ready for the south. The team is getting to grips with taking our huge toy apart and packing it away smoothly and safely. I’ll let you know how things go in a couple of days.
We'll get more updates from Greg Lazarus and his crew as they continue their mission through Brazil. In the meantime check out some of the action from their adventures so far:
Revista Hotel News
Club Social Youtube Channel
Local Brasil Surf