"Because of Her Dropping in, I fell in a Really Bad Spot. That's Where People Hit Their Heads." - Stab Mag
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Chaos at the Banzai! Photo: Mitch Colapinto

“Because of Her Dropping in, I fell in a Really Bad Spot. That’s Where People Hit Their Heads.”

We talked with Moana Jones and Tatiana Weston-Webb following their Pipeline incident.

news // Jan 6, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Today saw more women than usual in the Pipeline lineup—the result of beautiful (if still treacherous) conditions and a Vans Triple Crown up for grabs. 

Bronte Macaulay was out packing left-hand pits at first light. Keala Kennelly and Malia Manuel paddled out for a sunset spritz. It’s likely a handful of other women tried their luck throughout the day. But none turned our heads like Moana Jones and Tatiana Weston-Webb, who could be seen (and presumably heard) upbraiding one another after getting their swords tangled this evening. 

First, let’s establish the characters.

Moana Jones is a 21-year-old North Shore local who has been called the “best female Pipe surfer…ever” by James Duncan O’Brien. Tatiana Weston-Webb is a 24-year-old Kauai native and Champion Tour veteran who is also revered for her forehand tube-riding, though not necessarily at Pipeline.

This evening at the Banzai, Tati dropped in on Moana on a mid-sized left.

Moana was extremely aggrieved by Tati’s transgression—partly because it resulted in her hitting the reef at the world’s deadliest wave, and partly, it would seem, because Moana doesn’t like the idea of someone “buying” their way into the Pipe lineup—a notoriously hostile environment that often takes years to ingratiate oneself with (which Moana has done with incredible patience and perseverence over the past several seasons). 

Here’s what Moana posted to her Instagram story (in chronological order):

We just got off the phone with Tati to hear her side of the story. Here goes:

Well, all I can say is I made a huge mistake. I accidentally dropped in on Moana, but I one-hundred-percent looked back and I didn’t see her. And at that point I was already late. So I dropped in and went straight—I was already planning on going in.

Then I walked in and my husband [former CTer, Jesse Mendes] said, “Was that Moana that you accidentally dropped in on?”

I said, “I don’t know. I didn’t see who it was.” I felt so bad.

Then Moana came up to me looking furious. She tried to hit me in the face, but I blocked it, thankfully. I proceeded to apologize a million times. I told her I looked up to her a lot at Pipe and I really respected her and how she paved the way for women. I told her I’m trying to earn respect out there like she has. And all she was saying to me was just really rude stuff. 

I literally had to say to her, “If I apologize to you again, will it make a difference?” And she just kept calling me stupid and a bitch.

Can we get a lip-reader?

Moana confirmed this to us (exact words: “Are you an idiot or are you just stupid, or both?”), along with the fact that she had attempted to hit Tati (“Yeah, that’s true.”). Moana went onto explain that she wasn’t interested in Tati’s apology because it didn’t address the core of the problem. She’s frustrated about issues that go beyond the drop-in itself, being safety and respect at Pipeline.

Moana’s unfiltered thoughts:

Because of her dropping in, I fell in a really bad spot. That’s where people hit their heads. People have died at Pipe on a four-foot day. That’s why I went off on her—because I’m not going to let this stupid shit go around and like, let somebody get hurt…or worse.

And when I see these girls out there, it’s like, they’re not even looking where they’re going. They don’t even know where they’re going. They’re basically clueless and they don’t know how to surf pipe and they’re a hazard. Clearly, we can see Tati’s a hazard at Pipe.

I didn’t paddle out to Pipe until I knew that I was ready to surf out there. I would never be like, “Oh, I’m just going to paddle out at Pipe, even though I don’t know if I’m ready or not.” I made sure I wasn’t going to make a fool out of myself. Then I paddled out and I just respected everybody. I’ve never dropped in on anyone at Pipe.

I also get off when girls bring a coach out there to try to learn how to surf Pipe. ‘Cause I didn’t do that. If you’re trying to earn your spot out at Pipe, you’ve got to do it the right way and the respectful way. You’ve got to go out here on your own. You can’t just hire a coach to come out there and babysit you and try to push you into waves and block people like, “Hey, she’s going, she’s a girl.” Nobody thinks that’s cool.

Tati had some thoughts on that final point:

Ross [Williams] blocked for me one time when a boogie boarder was gonna burn me. That was the first time ever…and the last. But other than that I’ve never been blocked for—not the way I’ve seen other girls get blocked for over the years. I’ve paddled for all of my waves, and screamed, like had to yell off my chest for every wave that I’ve gotten. 

But I mean, whatever she says, it’s understandable. I can understand that she’s mad with me and that’s okay. I hope she just learns to forgive me.

No acai bowls were harmed in the making of this story.

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