[This is an excerpt from “A Line of Their Own”, featured in SURFER Vol. 59, Issue 3, which profiles six women who are carving unique paths through shaping, competition, big-wave surfing and beyond]
In lineups from San Onofre to Noosa Heads, Malibu to Waikiki, traditional longboarding is enjoying a renaissance colored by single fins, traditional outlines and an electric cast of radical stylists redefining fun in surf under head-high. And if you're having trouble wrapping your mind around the appeal of the logging revival, you probably haven't seen the magnetic approach of Karina Rozunko.
Karina Rozunko's dad put her on a surfboard before she could walk, and she grew up idolizing her older brother, pro shortboarder and aerial maestro Tanner Rozunko. So it was probably inevitable that she'd become a talented surfer herself, but few would have predicted she'd eventually find herself at the forefront of the traditional longboarding revival.
"I used to ride shortboards and do contests growing up, but I feel like I just connected so much more with longboarding," says Rozunko. "Obviously it's really fun to surf that style of board—single fin, pretty flat, pig-shaped with a super narrow nose and wider hips. But more than that, longboarding feels more like a lifestyle than a sport. It's a whole different culture, and I get why so many people are drawn to it now."
On any given day at San Onofre, you're likely to find Rozunko in the lineup on her single fin, linking stylish bottom turns and swooping cutbacks between long perches on the nose. Her passion for surfing traditional craft has also connected her to a global network of likeminded wave sliders, and caught the attention of its most revered tastemakers, like Joel Tudor, who personally invited Rozunko to his esteemed Duct Tape longboarding events.
"It was already a great morning," remembers Rozunko, who was enjoying a lengthy residency at the fabled points of Australia's Sunshine Coast when she received her first Duct Tape invitation in 2015. "It was my 19th birthday and I was staying on a boat in the Noosa harbor. It had rained the night before, but the sun was popping out and everything was beautiful. I looked at my phone and I had a message from Joel saying, 'Get back over here, you're going to be in the next Duct Tape.' I couldn't believe it."
According to Rozunko, it's a strange but thrilling time to be a female longboarder. Over the past few years, as logging has found renewed popularity with a new generation of surfers, sponsorship opportunities for women have increased as well, allowing a handful of females at the forefront of longboarding to pursue their passions in a way they never would have thought possible when they first started cross-stepping.
"I remember when I first got into longboarding, people would make fun of me and tell me longboarding is so lame," says Rozunko. "But five years later, those same people all started longboarding and talking about how cool the whole scene is [laughs.] It's also gotten really crowded at some of my favorite spots. I'm almost at the point where I'm like, 'Make longboarding lame again.'"
Crowds aside, Rozunko is glad to see that women seem to be gaining ground in the world of professional surfing. Through social media, Rozunko and friends are able to showcase their considerable logging talents and serve as an inspiration for young women around the world who want to join the movement. It's no surprise that surf brands want to be associated with that as well.
"There are so many young girls now who surf so incredibly well at like, 15 years old," says Rozunko. "They're so excited about it and I feel like they have such a great future ahead of them, and I want to help them however I can. I remember looking up to Kassia [Meador, the acclaimed female longboarder] when I was a kid, and every interaction we had meant so much to me. I want to be that positive influence on the next generation."