It seems like only a matter of time until Tatiana Weston-Webb will be mentioned as a world championship contender. At just 17 years of age, Tati has become one of the most consistent wahine juniors in the world and has been able to display her textbook style around the globe.
Whether it be in her local Hawaiian waters, where she already has multiple titles at Pipeline events, or Lower Trestles, where she has multiple Surfing America national championships, or international venues like Nicaragua, where she won this year’s International Surfing Association Under 18 gold medal, Tati has battled with the best in her division and, more often than not, come out on top.
This week’s result was just shy of another title, but Tati earned her largest payday ($4,000) in an Association of Surfing Professionals event to date with a second-place finish at the HD World Junior Championships in her birth country of Brazil.
The past 24 months have moved Tati to the head of the class within the outstanding crop of young Kauai Wahine surfers. Hanalei’s Nage Melamed finished the year ranked 28th in the Women’s World Rankings and had an Equal 13th at the 6-Star Hunter Ports Women’s Classic in Australia. Kilauea’s Leila Hurst finished ranked 47th and took an Equal 5th at the US Open Women’s Junior Pro. Koloa’s Brianna Cope finished the year ranked 78th and took second at this year’s North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior at Pipeline. Anahola sisters Mainei and Maluhia Kinimaka each made the podium at the Hawaii Surfing Federation state championships and were both in the 24-surfer field at the US Open of Surfing Women’s Junior Pro. And even with all the changes in her life, Bethany Hamilton finished the year ranked 44th and took an Equal 9th place at the Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, Calif.
Without knowing their individual ambitions, the goal for most of them is very likely to have their names alongside Malia Manuel and Alana Blanchard as Kauai competitors on the World Tour.
As of now, Tati is the closest to seeing that goal come to fruition. She finished this year ranked 12th in the world and ended up just one spot outside of a 2014 Women’s World Tour invitation. Making consistent deep runs is what has separated her and is also what makes future success seem so likely.
This past week’s second-place finish came with four of the six best waves of the event, including the top score of a 9.17 in Tati’s semifinal win over Chelsea Tuach. She also picked up wins against Frankie Harrer and Oahu’s Dax Mcgill on her way to the final heat, where she came up just short against New Zealand’s Ella Williams.
Not surprisingly, Brazil’s Gabriel Medina was dominant on the men’s side to earn his World Junior Championship. Medina, a World Championship Tour competitor, had three of the four best heat totals of the competition. He saved his best for last, putting up an 18.26 in the final for the win over Ramzi Boukhiam. Josh Moniz was the final Hawaii surfer, reaching the fourth round.
HIC PRO: Saturday was a lay day at the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach. Three heats remain in the Round of 64 with just six of the final 32 spots still undetermined. Four of the 38 remaining in the field hail from Kauai and they’ll all be paddling out early in the Round of 32. Kaimana Jaquias and Gavin Gillette are both in the next round’s opening heat, which will be followed by both Dylan Goodale and Evan Valiere in the second heat.
Defending event champion Sunny Garcia was eliminated in the Round of 64, his first heat of the competition. Kauai’s Alex Smith was also eliminated in that heat, which was won by Jaquias.
Of the 38 remaining surfers, 22 call Hawaii home, so a local champion is once again a strong possibility. Follow the action live at vans.com/hicpro, or on Oceanic Time Warner channels 250 and 1250.
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