Portugal's To Cardoso has been a hard working 'pro bodyboarder' for a few years now.
The 25-year-old charger from Nazare is well liked and well-known in European and world bodyboarding circles. He is one of the big names with Pride bodyboards and is also sponsored by Onda wetsuits, G-Shock, New Wave – a bodyboard store in Coruna, Spain – and the government of Nazare. As I am chatting to him during the trials at the Fronton King festival several people stop to congratulate the Nazare champion and get photos taken.
How was the tour for you this year?
This year I started with, 'I need to be in the top 10'. I didn't go to all the events I wanted to this year, you know, I have some support but not enough to do all [the events]. You have to do the whole tour and pass many seasons in Hawaii to know the waves there. I couldn't go to Tahiti this year but I would have liked to. I went to the Grand Slams and got some results and now a first win at Nazare has helped me in the rankings.
So what was your best result on the tour this year before Nazare? ?
Arica, I came fifth. There were two really strong swells one after another and they had the event in-between. I surfed El Buey on the big swell on the first day which was supposed to be the comp. The left was too scary, with the water moving, but I surfed the right with the guys paddling in on surfboards. I saw some big heavy barrels. Bodyboarders need to surf different waves.
I think you are a good example of a 'pro rider' from Europe, because there are many around the world, who is not getting fully what they need to do the tour but are doing a lot with what they get. I think this is important. With the small support you get you do a whole lot, with the Pride bodyboarding training academy back home and winning contests...
I got really luck with the Pride team.
My dad really wanted me to continue to study but my dream was in bodyboarding We went to the Canary Islands to film when we did the Young and the Restless clip, but I was studying in uni. I had left to do this trip but I had a really important exam that I needed to get to pass the year, so I asked my main sponsor at Pride, Immonal, 'can you buy my flight back home earlier?'. I was worried what he would say, maybe he thought I wasn't giving enough to the trip, and I was super sad to go but I wasn't thinking about school.
Immonal helped me and I finished uni. My dad really wanted me to continue to study but my dream was in bodyboarding. It is what makes me happy. After uni I started work on the Pride bodyboard school.
I opened this business with a friend and we started training kids in Nazare. I thought, there are no kids in Nazare surfing big waves and this new generation needs to continue. They are always surfing the small waves down town. We caught up with all these kids with potential and we brought them to different waves, to slabs, and showed them this is what bodyboarding is all about.
With the help of my friend Hugo Macatrao, we are coaching kids for national events in Portugal from 12 – 18 years old. Pedro Veigas was one of the youngest at the beginning but now the oldest, 18 years old, he is on the pro junior world tour. So I am happy with it and I am happy with solving the problems of a new generation.
What was it like growing up in Nazare and winning the event there?
It is hard, because it has been only us since the beginning. There was just me, Dino and Ben, Andre Bernardo, Goncalo Soares.
Now the surf scene in Nazare is stronger than the bodyboard scene?
With the tow-in teams coming for the big waves the surf scene is stronger because it changed the market in Nazare. But there is more businesses opening up around the surfing in Nazare like hostels and restaurants, so it is good.
When Garrett came and made it really professional, in 2010, he was the first one to catch the biggest swells. Before that there were some Portuguese towing in on the smaller days but they already knew the potential.
For me, winning the Nazare Pro was a dream come true, I grew up on that beach and it used to scare me. I was so scared in the beginning when I was 12-years-old. Praia de Norte was a savage beach with no one seeing you. There were no lifeguards, the beach wasn't prepared to save anybody.
We would all support each other by saying, 'yes, we can do it together'. In the early days, even on the small days, there were sets that were coming in that were really big. We got experience from those sessions and no camera watching from the shore, nothing.
When I won the contest at Nazare I was coming from a place where I was having big changes in my life, I had problems with living with my dad and one week before the contest me and my girlfriend moved into a new place in Nazare. You know, I did my school, I did the coaching, I am doing what I want with my life but there was a lot of arguments.
So one week before the contest I was really sad bro. I put all these bad feelings into the contest, and there was a lot emotions: from sad to good.
The main event I didn't get through the first heat and went to round 2 with Roberto Bruno, with who I have a good connection with, because I had three match ups with him. I got through a super difficult heat with Alex Uranga and then I was matched up with Pierre Louis Costes, the most difficult heat.
He is one of my idols, he is the best and most consistent rider in my opinion. But the pressure was on him, he needed to win for the world title and I didn't have any pressure. I was already happy. I was at home and everything was perfect.
But I got through and then surfed against Alan Munoz, he is really dangerous, he is older than me and has so much experience. Then on a strange wave that I didn't think was anything, I got a barrel and a roll and got through. I had a real luck on this event, I know that.
before the bell rings I started crying. I don't know why, I didn't want to cry. I felt at home with my friends and the emotion explodes Then I went against Iain in the final, I was really tired but I never give up. The tide was super low and there were loads of rips, but I was really happy to get through in first place. They were five, four..[for the end of the final] and before the bell rings I started crying. I don't know why, I didn't want to cry. I felt at home with my friends and the emotion explodes: from my mouth and from my eyes.
Tell me about Joana Schenker?
Her achievement is amazing bro. The Portuguese have a strange concept. Portugal has to believe more, people need to believe more in their potentials. With this title of Joana, with the world title and my title at Nazare they will see that we can win and I hope it gets better for us and we can get some more people on the world tour. Because it is just me, Dino, Miguel Adao and the girls need to try harder and surf on the reef breaks.