SUP Women: Tatiana Howard
Whether she’s kitesurfing, windsurfing, or standup paddling, Maui’s Tatiana Howard loves it all if it involves the water. After a professional career in windsurfing took her around the world, ‘Tati’ founded The Butterfly Effect, a movement promoting women in water sports worldwide. Now, Tati travels the globe spreading the ‘Aloha spirit’ with her love for water sports, while bringing women together for non-competitive downwinders and judgment-free days on the water. —SC
Tell us about your background as a waterwoman.
I started surfing and windsurfing when I was 15. I quickly became sponsored and started competing in the Professional Windsurf Tour at 17. I traveled around the world competing and my passion for being out on the water grew along with all the other water sports. Soon I picked up kitesurfing, standup paddling, and tow-in surfing. I love it all. Even if it’s just to jump in the water at the end of the day, my love for the ocean makes me feel so good and energized.
You founded The Butterfly Effect (BE) a few years back. Tell us about the history of BE and the movement you’re promoting.
Yes! I started The Butterfly Effect in 2007. The Butterfly Effect began as a non-competitive “Aloha spirit” downwinder for waterwomen. The first year, myself along with my good friend Juliana Farias gathered just over a dozen windsurfers, kitersurfers, and only one standup paddler for the downwinder from Ho’okipa to Kanaha. From that day on it really took the effect! The next stop was in Brazil, and the event was exposed in magazines worldwide. People were reading about it, inviting us to have the event in their home spot, and now we’ve had 27 events in 13 countries. Standup paddling and The Butterfly Effect grew in popularity at the same time and now standup paddling is the most popular sport at BE events.
What was the intention behind including a downwind paddle at most of your events?
The Butterfly Effect began from doing a non-competitive downwinder with whatever water sport you practiced. It broke all boundaries of levels and ages. Even if a girl was from a different country and spoke another language, we were still able to share smiles and ride with each other on the downwinder. We were all in it to have fun, support each other, enjoy the sport with no judgment of what the other girl was riding, whether it be a board, a kite, or sail. We all shared the same passion of the ocean. Also, I just love downwinders! Being an all-around waterwoman, I love to take different sports out on the water and start from one location, check out new waters, outer reefs, views, and end up at a different spot five miles down a coastline. I think it’s so adventurous and fun. It’s something you want to do with a friend because sometimes the unfamiliar waters can be a bit scary, but together, with encouragement, you can do it!
For the past couple years you’ve been traveling to different places around the world for BE events. Where do you see the SUP culture thriving most?
The Butterfly Effect has now expanded from Maui to Brazil, Germany, Israel, Switzerland, Tahiti, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Dominican Republic, Italy, France, and Sweden. It’s great to see standup paddling happening everywhere. I think Europe has so many awesome lakes and places to see on an SUP. The possibilities there are endless, and every year I go back, the sport seems to get bigger and bigger.
Tell us about the locations you’ll be holding events at this year and what’s in store for 2014.
The Butterfly Effect has grown so much over the past two years. This year, for our first event, we took it to the mountains in Whistler, Canada and had the snow edition event because snow is only frozen water! We are still waterwomen!
For the remaining of 2014, we will continue to do the big, one-day, aloha, downwinder, and beach festival events on Maui, Dominican Republic, Italy and Lake Tahoe, and we will also do some women’s water sport camp weeks in Morocco, Italy, Maui, Indonesia, Tahiti, and Spain.
After experiencing different places and cultures, where’s your favorite place for water activities?
I love to make The Butterfly Effect in really pretty locations where the weather isn’t harsh, and where women can enjoy being. I did the hardcore contest and locations with cold water, hard-to-access, tough locations, and rocky points, which were always less enjoyable to me. I like a place where beauty surrounds me, people are smiling and happy and warm because they feel comfortable—that’s what makes The Butterfly Effect different than a lot of other events or contests; we go where we think participants will most enjoy, not because of money or where sponsors want us to be.
For my favorite location, that’s a tough one. Being the organizer and founder, I get so into each community we visit that everyone becomes like family. They show me all the local special spots and “must do’s” in the area, so every place I’ve been makes me heartbroken to leave. I fall in love with each spot way too easy.
What do you hope participants take away from BE events?
I always remind the participants to take the opportunity to fill up on the “Aloha spirit,” take time for themselves, and to hold the event as a reminder to ‘BE’ in the moment every day, enjoy life, make friends, share smiles, travel, and to give back. The event gives that camaraderie feeling that sticks with the women—that’s why I think it has grown to the size it has—because it’s not like a contest where you win or lose; The Butterfly Effect is an overall experience that you take part in to really understand. For me, I just can’t believe the unique magic that happens in each event. Each BE event—like each participant—is so different, but so beautiful.
For more information, visit: BEtheEffect.com
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