Last weekend Chloé Calmon paddled out into the lineup of Riyue Bay in Hainan, China for her first Duct Tape Invitational and bested a field of the 16 best longboarders in the world, edging out Hallie Rhor, Victoria Vergara and reigning DTI champ Honolua Blomfield in the finals. While it was surprising to some, those on the beach in Hainan were likely familiar with Calmon's surfing–the Brazilian goofy footer's been to Riyue Bay several times, dating back to 2010.
And while familiarity is a known competitive advantage, for a competition like the DTI that rewards creativity and singularity in approach, stoke can serve as the x-factor.
"I've been doing contests for 12 years now and I can easily say that I never had so much fun in an event like I did at the Duct Tape Invitational," Calmon told us. "Hanging out with a bunch of cool people, amazing surfers, having the most fun and surfing an incredible wave–everybody gets so stoked when you get a sick wave. It's a big party."
We caught up with Calmon to find out more about enjoying her first DTI experience in familiar territory.
Congrats on the victory! You've been surfing in China before. What's the surf scene like in Hainan? And what were the waves/conditions like for the comp?
Thanks! Yeah, I've been coming to Hainan for the last eight years. My first year there, I remember there was no surfing culture at all, and after all these years having events and athletes from all over the world it has built a big structure for the sport. Nowadays there are tons of surfers, some surf clubs and surf schools, even a national team preparing for the Olympics. The wave at Riyue Bay is a super fun left that works with all sizes. During the days before the event it was small, but so good for logging, and for the final days it picked up and we were blessed with 3-4ft, long rides.
This was your first DTI. Talk about what it felt like to get the invite.
I felt so stoked. I was over the moon when I got the invite. When I started longboarding at 12-years old, I'd watch Joel [Tudor]'s movies over and over again. And since then he's been a great inspiration. And it's a very prestigious group at the DTI—only few lucky ones had the chance to be part of it and it makes me so happy to have joined this group, too. This event was one of the funnest and sickest events I ever had the chance to be in.
Besides yourself, who was surfing well? Did any of the invitees stand out to you?
All the girls were ripping. There were some good heats where you'd find it hard to say who would make it through. Hallie, Honolua, and Victoria made the final with me and they surfed wonderfully. My mind was blown by watching the young girls surfing too—Summer [Richley], Mason [Schremmer] and Kelis [Kaleopaa].
Can you walk me through the final? Were there any moments where you thought you might not come out on top?
I was so excited for the final. The beach was packed and it was a big surprise for me to make the final at my first ever Duct Tape. The waves were so fun and I remember getting a sick one close to the end, with two long hang tens. I knew it would be a tough one because all the girls where shredding, but I was feeling so relaxed, having fun and happy that it all worked out at the end.