“It just felt like Filipe’s day all day.”
That’s what Kelly Slater, the greatest surfer of all time, said as the clock ticked down on the final heat of the WSL season. But really, it wasn’t just Filipe’s day, it was his year.
Having made the finals in 5 out of the 10 events, and winning two of them, Filipe had an incredibly dominant 2022. Historically, he probably would have clinched the world title before even making it to Tahiti, but with the WSL’s new format that mandates a one-day surf off from the top-5 surfers in the world, he had to rise to the occasion. To win on the day.
That morning, while Italo Ferreira surfed his way from the fifth seed, Filipe was at home with his family, doing family things. Making breakfast. Playing with his kids. The perks of having relocated from Ubatuba, Brazil to San Clemente, CA — where the Rip Curl WSL Finals is held — many years ago.
He brought this familiar, relaxed energy down the trail and onto the beach. But once he hit the water, Filipe released his intensity. Negotiating bumpy conditions as if he were facing each chop and rib in slow motion, he attacked the waves. Searing carves. Powerful wraps. Tail blows and air reverses. Italo didn’t stand a chance.
On the beach, after winning the first two heats of the best-of-three match-up, Filipe was embraced by his family — mom and dad, wife and kids — along with a swarm of adoring fans, who came for the surfing but stayed for the humility, kindness, and positivity. It was a scene that only sport can induce. Powerful and tear-jerking.
“Does it feel as good as you thought it would?” asked the beach announcer. “It’s better,” he said.