Surfing world champion Filipe Toledo said on Sunday he was withdrawing from the 2024 professional world tour to take a one-year mental health break from competition.
“In the past, I have been honest about some of my challenges not only with injuries but also with mental health,” the Brazilian, who has won two world championships, said in a statement.
“Competing at the highest level for the past decade has taken a toll on me and I need a break to recover for the next chapter of my career.”
The 28-year-old is known as the fastest surfer in the world and has dominated the past two seasons with his unmatched repertoire of searing carves and aerials.
He has also been a leading member of the “Brazilian Storm”, a tight-knit group from the South American nation who have won seven of the nine most recent men’s championships.
But Toledo’s sometimes timid approach in big, barrelling waves, particularly on his backhand, has drawn criticism from some surf fans and media.
At the season opener at Pipeline, completed in pumping surf on Saturday, Toledo finished in last place after catching two poor waves and finishing with a combined total of 1.77 points out of a possible 20. He then withdrew from the contest, citing food poisoning.
Toledo, who has been granted a wildcard to compete in the World Surf League’s 2025 season, has qualified for the Brazilian team for the Paris Olympics, being held at Tahiti’s Teahupo’o – another powerful tubing wave where Toledo has struggled on his backhand. Toledo’s statement did not address his plans for the Olympics.
Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam will take Toledo’s place in the world tour field, which will be cut by a third after five events of the nine-stop tour.
“I have so much passion for the sport but I need some time off to fully recover so I can come back stronger than ever,” Toledo said.
“I hope my fans around the world understand this decision and will stick with me when I return to the tour next year. I wish my fellow competitors a great CT season ahead. I will be watching!”