It was surf's up Sunday for the sport's century-in-the-making Olympic debut as competitors were consumed emotionally by the momentous occasion and exuded the pure joy of finally making it.
For many spectators, this was the first glimpse of a beloved-though-niche competitive sport that is as wild as it is stunning.
Kanoa Igarashi is a 23-year-old Californian with dual Japanese citizenship who is surfing for Japan and has the advantage of growing up at the Olympic site, Tsurigasaki beach, about 90 miles east of Tokyo.
The young surfer summed it up this way:
"I feel like I'm representing my family, my sport, and my friends. I can't wait to just talk to them for the rest of the day and to just enjoy watching surfing in the Olympics," Igarashi said. "I can't believe I said those words. We are in the Olympics!"
The nerves were clearly there, too. An Australian competitor said he wanted to puke. An American said she had a melt down.
Yet they hid their panic beneath the surface and put on a good show despite modest waves in the morning. Surfers came out of the water beaming with pride, and so excited to finally be at the big event they'd longed to be a part of.
Day 1 had the feel of a high school prom: a highly-anticipated milestone and coming-of-age celebration that's friendly and low-stakes, but also cements their place in the world.