Even before their son Gabriel Medina became a world champion of surfing, Simone Medina and Charles Rodrigues saw the benefits that the sport could have in a child’s life. As they raised Gabriel in São Paulo, Brazil, daily surf practice helped the parents instill a sense of balance and discipline that still motivates Gabriel today.
After Gabriel became a world champion, he and his parents began thinking of ways they could give back to the kids of Brazil. With the goal of helping the next generation of champions on and off the waves, the family founded the Gabriel Medina Institute.
Creating the next generation of surfers
Like a surfer looking for the perfect swell, the Gabriel Medina Institute keeps its feet firmly planted but its eyes towards the future. With the help of Microsoft technology, in collaboration with partners Softline and Gunter Glass, the institute has the power to revolutionize the sport by bringing in cutting-edge technology and powerful analytics.
“Sport is a principle for everything in your life.”
- Simone Medina, founder, Gabriel Medina Institute
Data provided by the connected surfboard is at the heart of the team’s efforts. Unlike the model that Gabriel used to become Brazil’s first World Cup of Surfing winner, this board has a compartment built to hold the technology and pressure sensor overlay. And thanks to integrated gyroscope, accelerometer, pressure pads, and GPS, it can collect data that provides insights the team has never been able to track before. The sensors can also track a wave’s speed, height, and distance along with a student’s exact foot position and heartbeat—allowing trainers to confirm information they can’t always see from shore.
Accelerometer: The accelerometer measures the the speed and acceleration at which the surfboard moves across the waves to determine how fast the surfer is going.
GPS: The GPS pinpoints the exact coordinates of where the surfer is located on the wave.
Pressure pads: The pressure pads can determine where on the board the surfer's foot is placed and how much pressure is being applied.
Gyroscope: The gyroscope can measure the rotation and twists of the surfboard to help identify maneuvers and determine whether a surfer cuts back.
Paired with the institute’s wider mission, the Microsoft partnership is helping empower the next generation of champions at surfing and at life. For students like Pedro Bianchin, the platform is providing the edge they need to fulfill a dream of competing around the world.
“The technology can help tell me the size of the wave, how fast I am going, and how deep I am.”
- Pedro Bianchin, student, Gabriel Medina Institute
Other students, like Gabriel’s sister Sophia, are using the technology to hone their skills with an eye on becoming the next wave of champions: “My biggest goal is to win the world’s championship someday. I believe that you must have big dreams.”
Regardless of their final goals, the new tools are pushing students to do the same thing that a young Gabriel Medina did—dreaming big. For a family that has spent their life competing, that may be their greatest victory yet.