The Return of Marcelo Luna: Brazilian Hellman's Recovery From Horror Neck Injury

Matt Rode

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Updated 42d ago

The last time I saw Marcelo Luna, he was charging around Nazare—amping on swells, working on projects, and generally going a mile a minute. There aren’t many people with as much energy as Marcelo, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the excitable Brazilian.

But then, in 2019, he went mysteriously silent, and no one heard much of anything out of him for the past few years. As it turns out, Marcelo suffered a number of potentially career-ending injuries and has been holed up at home, rehabbing, healing, and chomping at the bit to get back out there.

Spot guide: Brazil

Playing peek-a-boo on the first slab back.

Playing peek-a-boo on the first slab back.

© 2021 - Luis Reis

This past week, when one of Brazil’s newly hyped monster slabs woke up for the first time in a few years, Marcelo made his comeback official, whipping a beast and shrugging off a severe beating as it were nothing. From what I could see, he was well and truly over his injuries, so I hit him up to check in, see how the body is feeling, and get his thoughts on the recent slab session.

It's been a while since we've seen you, Marcelo, and a lot has happened since then. Tell us about the journey you've been on over the past few years.
Yep, a long time for sure. I had an accident in November 2018 at Nazaré, where I injured the muscles of my left leg. After recovering from that injury and getting back in the water, I went to Switzerland to snowboard and had a serious accident, injuring my neck. Nobody knew much about it because I kept it secret, as I was afraid I’d lose my sponsor

Nobody knew much about it because I kept it secret, as I was afraid I’d lose my sponsor. I lost 90 per cent of the movement in my arm, shoulder, and hand, and we had to work hard to avoid surgery. My medical team did a great job.

So is your neck better now? From what we have seen, it looks like you are back out there, charging as hard as ever!
I’m 100 per cent! Charging like before and looking to accomplish some big goals again. 

© 2021 - Luis Reis

Tell us a bit about that slab you surfed in Brazil.
It has been crazy this year in Brazil. I been spending a lot of time here, and I don’t remember another year with so many swells. There have been so many waves, so many slabs with good, big waves.

This particular swell I took Wellington Reis with me. I’m training him as my driver and introducing him to the big wave world. We went to the south of Brazil to surf a slab that I have been hunting for 4 years, and we finally got it!  

How have you dealt with the COVID-19 travel restrictions over the past year? Have you mostly been staying at home, or have you been able to travel?
Actually I have been traveling like normal, mostly to the countries where I have sponsors, like Portugal, Sweden, and Spain. And I was in Peru last year working on a project there.

© 2021 - Luis Reis

Now that you are healed up and travel restrictions are lifting, what are your plans? What are your main goals for your surfing, and what spots do you plan to chase?
I am still planning to focus on Nazaré for sure—that’s the place for me. But I also have a few other countries I want to visit. I’m actually waiting for the USA open to Brazilians because I have a project to do there with my sponsors.

I know that it has always been important to you to be a good example to young kids, and to inspire them to follow their dreams and stay out of trouble. What have you been working on in that arena?
Yes, that is really all I have ever wanted to do. I’m currently working on a big project to help impoverished youth in my country, and to give to them opportunities to realise their dreams like I have been able to do.

Well you continue to inspire all of us, Marcelo. We are glad to see you are back in action!