PRINCEVILLE — Tatiana Weston-Webb, the Kaua‘i resident who rode in the Olympics’ first-ever surfing competition, is back on tour after an “intense” experience in Japan.
The 25-year-old surfer is No. 4 in the World Surf League’s women’s Championship Tour (CT). She represented her birth country, Brazil, at the Summer Olympics but was eliminated in Round Three.
Carissa Moore, of Honolulu, ultimately took home the gold medal for Team USA.
Weston-Webb is enthralled by the spirit of the Olympic Games, despite her defeat.
“That was obviously really, really difficult to understand, you know, but sometimes you just have to understand the ocean doesn’t work in your favor,” she said on Tuesday, before catching a flight to the next leg of the CT in Oaxaca, Mexico. “You can’t really force the ocean to give you waves and sometimes it just happens like that in surfing. That’s the sport we chose.”
Brazil’s Olympic surf team was quartered near the competition venue, Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, on the Pacific coast of the Chiba Prefecture. But Weston-Webb said visiting the Tokyo Olympic Village, filled with athletes living out their dreams, was the highlight of her trip.
“I wish that I had experienced the Olympic Village before competing … that sort of energy in the Olympic Village was something almost tangible,” she explained. “You could touch the energy that was being emitted throughout all these beautiful competitors.”
Weston-Webb counts champion surfer Silvana Lima, who lost in the women’s quarterfinals to Moore, as one of her Olympic teammates. Lima is a longtime hero of Weston-Webb’s, who credits her with an envelope-pushing style that has advanced women’s surfing.
These days, though, the Princeville surfer regards Lima as something more than an aspirational figure.
“At some point, your idols become your biggest competitors, if you’re climbing up the ranks quick enough,” Weston-Webb said.
A sense of friendly rivalry pervaded the surf camp. Had she lasted longer, Weston-Webb could have been matched against Lima.
“It was actually quite intense … There was this underlying tension that this opportunity is once in a lifetime,” she said. “So everyone wanted to do really well.”
Weston-Webb’s next contest, the Corona Open Mexico, takes place Aug. 10 through Aug. 19. Like Tsurigasaki Beach, it’s a far cry from the Garden Isle, where she cut her teeth surfing in Hanalei Bay.
“The most beautiful part about surfing is just no matter who you are or where you’re from, the ocean always treats you the same,” she said. “No matter what, every experience in the ocean is going to be different than the last time you were in the water.
“So for me, that’s the most beautiful part of surfing. You’re just always a moment in time, you know?”
Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.