Eighteen-year-old Honolua Blomfield embodies the style and grace of a World Longboarding Champ. But when she arrived in Taiwan a couple weeks ago for the final event of the WSL Women's Longboard season, she wasn’t exactly a shoe-in the for the title.
Blomfield has done well on the Longboarding World Tour in previous years, finishing with a tie for 5th in 2016 and an equal tie for 9th in 2015. But this year at the Taiwan Open, the young Hawaiian had her work cut out for her. The field was stacked with talented and experienced competitors, like Kaitlin Maguire, Chloe Calmon and 2011 Champion Lindsey Steinriede, who consistently posted scores in the excellent range throughout the event.
But Blomfield saved her best performance for the final, earning an 18.60 heat total--the highest of the entire event--on her way to clinching her first world title (and we’re betting there will be more to come). In the wake of her standout performance in Taiwan, we recently caught up with Blomfield and asked her about her path to her first championship, the state of professional longboarding, and her plans for a title defense in 2018.
The conditions looked pretty challenging for the final in Taiwan--big, mushy, set waves and rare open faces. How did the waves dictate your approach to your final heat? What was your strategy?
The whole day the conditions were absolutely perfect until the final, when the sets started to slow down. Growing up in Hawaii, I’m used to surfing big, mushy waves like Pupukea, so that was a big advantage throughout the event. I basically just took it heat by heat and tried to surf them all like a free-surf session. I just tried not to overthink it, stay relaxed and enjoy the moment.
This was the first time the WSL Women’s LB title was decided by more than one event. After finishing 3rd in Papua New Guinea, were you thinking you might have a legit shot at the title in Taiwan?
The fact that they added another event changed the whole title run in my opinion. The years prior, they only had one event and I didn’t feel like that was a fair way to decide the world champion. Although I'd love to see more events added to the Tour, it is really cool to see the WSL slowly making steps to bring awareness to longboarding.
I knew with a good result in Papua New Guinea I could be in with a solid chance, so I really started to work closely with my shaper on my boards so when the Taiwan event came around I knew exactly what worked and what I wanted to ride in all conditions.
The performance level throughout the Taiwan event was through the roof, and it made for a highly watchable event. Can you talk about the state of the competition among the pro longboard ranks right now? There are some really talented surfers competing in these contests.
I feel like the level of surfing is so high in the women’s division at this point. It's amazing to see how hard the surfers have been working, and how much some of us have improved. It's kind of crazy because at this point there are no easy heats. Every heat is a hard one.
There's been a fair amount of discussion about changes to the rules/format of the WSL longboard events--going straight single-fin, adding and mixing up venues, etc. What, if any, changes would you like to see in 2018 and beyond?
I have definitely seen a big change in the judging and format already. This year they really started to appreciate solid noserides. If you can combine hang-tens and rail turns, you’re guaranteed a big number. I’m not sure if they can go complete single fin, but I am open to anything and I would actually love to see that happen. The main key to making a tour is more events, and I think every one of us [competitors] would like it if they added a few.
Where do you go from here? How will you prepare for a title defense in 2018? Do you find a lot of places to ride a longboard at home in Hawaii?
Obviously, I’m going to try and defend my title for many years to come. So I'll be working on my boards and surfing all the time at home. We have so many different varieties of waves here in Hawaii, so it's great practice. One of my favorite waves to surf is Pipe, but you can find me surfing anywhere on the North Shore, depending on the conditions.
[Images by Keoki]