While most of his peers dreamt of being the next Pele, Carlos Burle paddled around the Atlantic Ocean on a piece of fibreglass waiting to be engulfed by whatever it chose to throw at him next. Surfing, he decided at an early age, was his calling, and as the sport grew and became more professional throughout the '70s, so his dream slowly became a vocation. Entering folklore on the back of the then biggest recorded wave (how does a 68-foot wall of water sound?) of all time in 2001 and finally crowned Big Wave World Champion at the official world tour's first competition in the discipline in 2010, the Pernambuco native is now a surfing legend. So who better to throw down a few tips on the where's and where not's of surfing R-I-O?
A long-standing favourite with carioca surfers, it is where th big boys go and call home, so don't think you can just cruise in and bag the first wave that comes along. Point Break this isn't, but then again you're not Keanu Reeves, so when the waves come from the east and the break is perfect, just be aware of who is next to you. Medium to large swell from the left of up to 10 feet possible.
Canto do Leblon
With a southerly or south-easterly swell the right-hand breakers can reach 15 feet, but even more often they'll trundle in un-rideably making it more of a family splash-spot than a hanging-ten haven.
The full 18 kilometres of Barra beach is at its cleanest from lifeguard tower two onwards, and the waves are fairly consistent along its full length. The predominantly eastern swell produces left-handed breakers that, when it gets big, can yield some rather tasty tubes. Well worth a training session if towing-in is your game.
It may mean a bit of a trip through Niteroí to get there, but Itacoatiara's southerly aspect means it gets the biggest waves head on. With the south-easterly always the surfer's favourite round these parts and waves regularly reach between 5-12 feet, occasionally more than fifteen.
The little bay gathers left and right handers, with the middle building some decent tubes when conditions allow. Those preferably being swell from the south west, but decent conditions and three good options make this the most consistently popular surfing spot in the state.
Canto do Recreio
Protected from south-easterly winds, Recreio's waves are at their best at low tide and with a full southerly or easterly swell giving right-to-left breakers of up to 8 feet.
The fat waves of Macumba beach reach up to 8 feet, and the lack of height and reasonably easy accessibility make it a good beginner's spot. Also the most popular beach for longboarders.