The Vans Duct Tape Celebrates Creativity & Surf Culture in Brazil
Film photos from Rio De Janeiro's first Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational, where 32 of the world's best longboarders compete for the waves and style
Even those born thousands of miles from an ocean know that surfing is all about style. It's not what you do, but how you do it. And that goes for surf contests too—something the Vans Duct Tape Invitational & Festival knows all about. Part longboard contest, part celebration of community and surf culture, the creativity-fueled event founded in 2010 by legendary surfer Joel Tudor has become one not to miss for seasoned pro, up-and-coming ams, and curious spectators alike.
Now in its 11th season with 24 contests in 11 different countries already in the books, the traveling Vans Duct Tape recently held its first event in South America, bringing together 32 of the best longboarders from around the world to compete for a prize purse of $48,000 (split equally among men and women winners) at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Macumba Beach.
In addition to the contest itself, the Festival aspect included a community market with local vendors—OZÜ and their sun protection products for a range of skin tones was a highlight—on-site surfboard shaping, art and sustainability workshops, local food carts, and of course, beach clean-ups.
On hand to document the scene over one long, raucous weekend, I could tell something special was happening. The energy was high, but far from serious. Surfers from around the world traded waves and boards, shared beers between heats, and cheered each other on. We in the media bull pen did our best to keep up. All while local fans and surfers kept the vibe screaming well into the witching hours each night.
Not to be outdone, the weather and swell matched the vibe, bringing intense conditions that only make the event more of a thrill.
But as these things go, a few good photos are worth a thousand words. So scroll on for a visual recap of the 2023 Vans Duct Tape Rio de Janeiro, documented on 35mm and medium format film, plus a surprise Q&A with South African pro surfer Mikey February.
As another key part of the festival, Vans invited Brazilian pro skater Pedro Barros and surfer Jasmin Avelino, along with South Africa’s Mikey February and Karina Rozunko of California to each hand-shape two surfboards of their own. Shaped in part prior to the event in an on-site shaping bay, the eight unique boards were on display and available for community use, celebrating the beauty and craftsmanship of world-class surfboard shaping and the vibrant local Macumba Beach culture.
At the end of the event, the eight boards alongside eight Vans Duct Tape branded soft tops were donated to The Surf Learning & Development Center, a local organization improving community access to surfing.
Read on below for a short conversation with Mikey February on shaping his own boards, surfing in Brazil, and the unique vibe of the Vans Duct Tape events.
Q&A: Pro Surfer Mikey February on the Vans Duct Tape Brazil Experience
Field Mag: What's it like being a part of the Duct Tape but not competing?
Mikey: It's so nice and mellow. It's weird being at a contest and not surfing in it, but at the same time it's just rad being around it with no pressure—just enjoying watching everyone else rip.
The whole festival's rad cuz it brings together so many creative and diverse people. I’m just stoked to be able to be a part of it and get to hang and cruise.
FM: Tell us about the vibe that the Duct Tape brings—how is this event different?
MF: Coming to Brazil, I've been here lots for performance contests and this has been really cool to see what the Duct Tape brings and what type of people it attracts.
From the outside looking in, you always see Brazilians as serious, competitive surfers. You expect them to be like, wanting to see people do air reverses and stuff. But then when you have an event like the Duct Tape, all these creative people from the local community come out and have fun. I was surprised how stoked the crowd is.
That's been really cool to see, that there's a balance. And I feel like this is just a lot more relatable.
FM: How was shaping your custom Duct Tape board?
MF: Yeah, I really enjoyed that. I’ve done a bit of it. But I really enjoy times like this when there's a nice excuse to get in the bay and just fiddle with stuff.
FM: How was it seeing Natsumi Taoka win the Expression Session on the board you shaped?
MF: That was really cool to see. She was ripping. I didn't expect anyone to be too psyched on it cuz it's nothing amazing. But she made the board work. When I saw her out there, she's like, “It goes so sick!”
That's one of the most rewarding things, making a board and someone being stoked on it.
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