The Passion of the Gui
In late 2018, for a brief moment there, the eyes of every SUP racing fan in the world were locked on one young man: Guilherme dos Reis from Brazil.
Guilherme, or just “Gui” as he’s known, was leading the final of the Pacific Paddle Games aka the biggest race of the year. The traditional “Super Bowl” event that took over from the Battle of the Paddle and kept southern California as the centre of the sport for a few more years.
It was a big deal.
And there was Gui, an unheralded dark horse from Brazil, leading the likes of Connor, Lincoln, Mo, Boothy, Danny, Casper, Titou and virtually every other top-ranked guy in the world. The fact he was only 17 years old only added to the moment.
Though he eventually finished second in that race – six seconds behind Connor Baxter – Gui was the hero of Doheny that day. It was the sort of performance that could easily launch a career.
Unfortunately for Gui, and the rest of us, that was the last big surf race our sport would see. The Pacific Paddle Games were canceled the following year and have never returned, ending a decade-long run of Doheny State Beach being the mecca of the sport that began with the 2008 Battle of the Paddle.
Despite such promise half a decade ago, over the past five years we’ve only seen glimpses of Gui. There was a couple of trips to Europe but results were underwhelming. The rising star could have been relegated to the pages of SUP history as a one-hit wonder, but Gui refused to go down without a fight.
Gui won the surf race at the Pan American Surfing Games in Panama this week. The result wasn’t significant because of whom he beat – the only other international name in the field was Itzel Delgado – but rather the potential this result could deliver later this year.
Panama was a qualifier for the Pan American Games proper, the “Olympics of the Americas” that are held every four years in that part of the world. This year we’ll see SUP racing on the shores of Santiago, Chile in late October. Only 10 guys will be there in what, you could argue, will be the biggest stage our sport has ever seen.
And clearly, the victory in Panama and ticket to Santiago meant a lot to Qui. Just look at his reaction as he crossed the line yesterday. That’s pure passion.
Suddenly, Gui has returned…
The Guiaissance, Guidux, The Passion of the Gui? Whatever you call it, this is an exciting moment for our sport as one of its brightest prospects paddles back onto centre stage (apparently it’s the year of comebacks, eh?).
We’ll have to wait six months before we can tell if Panama was the start of Gui 2.0 or just a routine regional win. Though perhaps the 1-2 finish from Connor and Gui that fateful day in Doheny was somewhat prophetic: Connor has also qualified for Santiago and the pair will probably start as the gold medal favourites…
photo credit: @panamericansurf