Last week, between a lot of Huntington hops and awkward end-section tags in the shortboard divisions of the U.S. Open, surf fans got to see something equal parts stylish and historic in the form of the first-ever all-women's Vans Duct Tape Invitational. It featured some of the most talented female loggers from California to Australia to Hawaii and beyond, and this pack of women showed that nothing looks better in small, crumbly surf than traditional single-fin logs ridden by people who know how to use them.
The Duct Tape’s requirement of traditional craft was a thrilling change of pace for eventual winner Honolua Blomfield – an incredibly-adept logger from the North Shore of Oahu. We’ve seen Blomfield surf high-performance longboards in competition before (she surfed them all the way to her 2017 WSL Women’s Longboarding World Title, in fact), but her passion lies squarely in traditional craft, making this a coming-out party of sorts for the young Hawaiian.
Following her big win, I caught up with Blomfield to discuss what it meant for her to win on her favored surfcraft and what the Duct Tape’s focus on women means for her and her peers.
Where would you rank this among your competitive accomplishments? Obviously you’re a WSL Women’s Longboarding World Champ, but this is a different animal, right?
I think winning this was right up there with the World Title – for me, anyway. I was really nervous for the Duct Tape, and I usually don’t get nervous in contests. You’ve got the best longboarders in the world there, like Joel [Tudor], and so you feel more pressure. And I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was, with so many people on the beach and so much energy. I looked back to the beach during the final and it all hit me, just how huge this event is. So yeah, in my opinion, it’s right there with the World Title.
And the Duct Tape events focus more on traditional logging as opposed to the high-performance longboarding in WSL events. Can you talk a bit about that difference in criteria and just the general vibe?
Yeah, it’s two totally different worlds. I think that the WSL is slowly taking steps toward more traditional longboarding, but the way it’s set up now, you can’t do the kinds of turns and noserides that the WSL judges would want to see on a log. The Duct Tape is all about style and noseriding, while the WSL is more about high-performance surfing on longboards mixed in with noseriding. In the Duct Tape, you get to ride a heavy, single-fin log, while in the WSL events I’d have to ride a 2+1 high-performance board.
What do you ride when you’re not competing and can surf however you want?
I only ride high-performance boards when I have to, which is just in the WSL contests. I only ride single fins at home or when I’m on trips where I’m not competing.
That makes this event even better, right? You got to compete in the style of surfing that you’re passionate about.
Yeah, I finally got to show how I surf on a log. [laughs]
How did it feel when you got the call to compete, knowing that Joel handpicks each competitor and he’s got a pretty discerning taste when it comes to longboarding?
I’m not gonna lie, I did freak out when I heard I was invited. Joel told me that they’ve been working on this for a while – getting together an all-women’s Duct Tape. But I’m not sure how they feel about the WSL, and I do ride a high-performance longboard sometimes for those contests, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed to be in it. I am a logger, though, and that’s what I’ve been since the very beginning. So it’s super cool, and I was so honored and freaked out when I found out I was in it. It’s just such a big deal to have it be all women and with equal prize money to the men. And they took such good care of us. I just had the best week ever.
It was such a stacked field with all the best female loggers in the world. Who do you look up to most from that pack?
That’s hard, because every one of those women is inspiring to me in some way. But I really look up to Jen [Smith] and have loved her surfing since I was little. I had Kassia [Meador] in some of my heats, which was really special as well. But like I said, every one of those women has inspired me.
And you had a few of your fellow Hawaiians in the mix as well. Are these people you’re logging with a lot back home?
Yeah, which is why it was super cool that me and Kelis [Kaleopaa] got first and second, because I surf with her all the time when I’m home. I’ll drive to Town or she’ll come to the North Shore, we go on trips together, so we’re really close. It’s just really inspiring to see another young girl from Hawaii with such good style, and it’s the same with Sierra [Lerback] who’s also from Hawaii.
I think it’s interesting that you gravitated toward longboarding growing up on the North Shore, because I’d imagine there are times in the winter when it’s hard to even find a longboardable wave because there’s just so much swell.
Honestly, I’ll take my biggest log, my 9’10”, out at Sunset on a 6-foot day and just go for it. Growing up there, you kind of have to do it. But it’s fun, you know? Big waves make me happy, too, which is good because sometimes that’s your only option.
It seems like Joel and Vans are really building momentum toward more events like this that support women’s logging. How big of an impact do you think that will have with the women who have really dedicated themselves to logging, not to mention the young girls who will now get more exposure to that type of surfing?
What they’re doing is super cool. There’s never really been an all-women’s logging tour, and I know that the Duct Tape isn’t exactly a tour, but they hold all these events and they’re very prestigious, and also just so fun. Last week was all about the fun, and all about the girls. It just makes me feel very special, you know? I think it’s really good for the women’s longboarding community because we can finally show what we can do.
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