To be the best one has to believe they can beat the best. The confidence, the grit, the attitude, there's zero ground to give in the pursuit of greatness. And the surf world just got a glimpse of that from Tatiana Weston-Webb at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona.
She not only beat World Number One and defending World Champ Carissa Moore, she relished the opportunity to do so.
"I'm proud of my surfing," Weston-Webb emphatically stated after beating Moore in the Semis of the Narrabeen Classic and fighting her way from the Elimination Round to the Final, taking second-place in the event.
Her motivation coming into the third stop of the 2021 Championship Tour? "To show everyone that I've been working on my surfing … a lot."
For the effort, she now finds herself sitting in third place on the WSL Leaderboard. She also has a very clear path to the eventual, World-Title crowning Rip Curl WSL Finals if she can maintain this pace, as the top five surfers at the end of the season will be ones competing at Lowers.
Weston-Webb, raised in Kauai, has developed the necessary chip on the shoulder to go out and conquer the world. Look no further than the barriers that Kauai's Keala Kennelly has shattered both at Pipeline and in huge surf in recent years.
And also, of course, the late three-time World Champion Andy Irons, and his brother Bruce, also products of Kauai surf culture.
"We all grew up watching guys like Bruce and Andy, who were so talented and fearless," Weston-Webb told Surfer Magazine in 2016.
Irons was a hard-scrabble kid from the forgotten streets of Hanalei that somehow convinced himself he could not only could be a World Champion, but deserved to be a World Champion.
"You didn't have to grow up and be something, you just couldn't crack under the pressure of your peers," Kamalie Alexander, who grew up alongside the Irons brothers, explained in an interview with ESPN.
It was that ruthless, hyper competitive environment born at Pine Trees in which Irons emerged as the apex predator. Brother Bruce Irons, Kamalie and Kala Alexander, Kennelly, Reef McIntosh, Dustin Barca and more than we have room to list here all heard the rally cry. They then moved to Oahu's North Shore and dominated Pipeline, embracing the "Wolfpak" moniker and taking the surf world by storm.
There's some of this DNA in Weston-Webb's surfing today. While she celebrates her Brazilian nationality and will represent the South American country in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, a lot of her formative years were spent in Hawaiian waters, and the accomplishments of surfers like Kennelly and Irons loom large in the local community.
In Narrabeen, Weston-Webb built momentum throughout the event. After getting tripped up in the Seeding Round, she survived the Elimination Round, and from there, she took out progressively bigger names, including Sally Fitzgibbons in the Quarters and then Moore in the Semis.
But more than the wins was the belief in herself, the attitude that not only did she win, she deserved to win. That's the kind of stuff Champions are made of. That's how Irons convinced himself he could beat the greatest competitive surfer of all time, the now 11-time World Champ Kelly Slater.
In recent history, Moore has owned the rivalry, beating Weston-Webb in the Semis at Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Pipeline at the start of the season. Going back to 2019, Moore ushered Weston-Webb out of three events that season. In fact, you have to go back three years to 2018 to find the last time Weston-Webb knocked Moore out of an event.
But undaunted, Weston-Webb kept coming up swinging, punching above her weight until she took out the Champ in Narrabeen. And now she's in a position to contend for the World Title as the Tour turns to a venue where she's enjoyed considerable successes, posting a Finals finish in 2019, as well as both Semi and Quarterfinal results throughout her career.
"Now we head to West Australia, which is a place I love, so I'm looking forward to keeping a roll going," Weston-Webb says.
With a forecast full of swell, the event could see the biggest waves of the 2021 season outside of Hawaii, and with her confidence sky-high and a lifetime preparing in Hawaiian power, the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona could provide Weston-Webb's next huge leap forward.