Sidão Tenucci Jr is a surfer/writer and founder of Brazil’s OP brand. He is also the creator of O Surfista Peregrino (The Surfing Pilgrim) and poetry with Almaquática (Water Soul – together with photographer Klaus Mitteldorf and designer David Carson). We recently caught up with him to find out more.
What was your life like growing up?
We played soccer on the streets when we still had dirt roads in São Paulo. I used to bodysurf on the big stormy swells when I was 11 to 13 years old. A year later I started surfing in Guarujá (coast city in the state of São Paulo). I used to horseride a lot with my friends at a ranch that belonged to my father.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I was about 13. It was an Induma, a brand that didn’t really go too far.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
Magical, like it is for everyone I guess. My young teenager perception was that I had found at least one real meaning for life.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
I used to read a lot. I enjoyed writers like Dostoyevsky, Herman Hesse and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m a big fan of the bands that truly revolutionized music on the seventies with quality, innovation and personality, like Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, The Beatles, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd. I also enjoy the eternal Brazilian icons like Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim and Caetano Veloso. Ghandi, Jesus and Buda are also figures that always come to my mind.
What do you try to transmit in your literature?
I try to transmit what I feel with the least possible intellectual interference. There is a level of interaction with ones inner self that is really an eternal search. The task to express these layers which are not detectable by the ordinary mind that belongs to music, poetry and this spontaneous narrative that can let us have access to our deepest emotions.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
I can’t say only one.
Sri Lanka was surreal with wild elephants strolling on a desert beach as I was surfing in the other side of the island, in Arugan bay in the village of Ulé. I ended up there in an unexpected way. Once again, getting off the beaten track created some major spiritual interest. Bali was the largest confluence between an exceptionally rich culture and a diversity of perfect waves that I have ever encountered. Hawaii during the seventies, it was still exotic and to surf there was like being in another planet that almost no one had ever heard about. The north coast of São Paulo in the late sixties and early seventies, when the exploration of the unknown was really strong, in a place that nowadays seems really near to the big city. But in those days it was like another galaxy we discovered.
At the end of the day, the magic of discovery is always the necessary element of enlightenment that opens the young (and old) souls, still today (laughs).
Who/what inspires you?
Everything. It’s random. It can be anything, really. From a leaf falling from a tree to a feminine figure that suggests, but not actually reveals its mysteries. A breeze that comes out of nowhere and gently combs the crest of a swell that has arrived just before dawn.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
I’ll just mention a few examples. They were things that I learned over the years and that I obviously still keep learning because they hardly ever incorporate themselves in a permanent fashion.
That a second is all that exists. That the love you give lasts forever. That surfing is a divine vehicle for the development of the conscience. That humbleness is taught to us along our lives in both a soft or aggressive way. It is a contradictory learnt gift. That the ego has got its essential value, but its not what really who we are. If we learn to look at it from the outside we will have given a gigantic step towards the truth of what we really are.
What are you most proud of?
To be able to keep evolving, learning and having the ability to refine my perception to the point I could visualize new worlds without leaving my house.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
I would add courage in the sense of penetrating fear and reaching to the other side. I’m also working on my internal pleasure in a way that I can gain more and more integrity.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Everything. It all relies on myself, and not other people and things.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
It might look contradictory for someone that owns a surfwear brand like OP, but it is all those individuals not involved in contests and promotion linked to surf products. And all exterior activity that is not attached to the simple and pure act of gliding over the waves.
What is your quiver at the moment?
A couple of 9’2 longboards and a 6’2 fish model (still to be delivered).
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
Bach and all the bands I’ve mentioned previously. Also timeless instrumental music like Cecilio & Kapono – a Hawaiian band that makes me travel through time, Astor Piazzola, MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) and Chet Baker.
What are you most grateful for?
You directly helped constructing the surfwear industry in Brazil in the late seventies. How do you see the evolution of the surfing culture in this country? Does it have a true identity?
It has been swallowed by commercial excess, most of it becoming pasteurized and with little identity at all.
What’s next for Sidney Tenucci?
I have many books yet to publish, some trips to be done and many people still to meet. The recovery of OP has been full of pleasures but deep inside I really don’t want to know what’s going to happen. It would spoil the surprise.