Hawaii women dominate in longboard surfing
For surfers, October brings potential for storms that kick up groundswells, and this month has already delivered Hawaii surfers some winning waves.
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For surfers, October means more than autumn leaves, harvest fruits and Indian Summer. The turning season brings potential for storms that kick up groundswells, and this month has already delivered Hawaii surfers some winning waves.
On Oct. 11, three-time world champion Carissa Moore of Honolulu won her third Roxy Pro France and is well-positioned to claim her fourth world title on the World Surf League women’s championship tour, which features cutting-edge power surfing on short boards. But also this month, two Pupukea women won prestigious longboarding victories in separate contests held Oct. 3.
Kirra Seale, 21, won the Vans Joel Tudor Duct Tape Invitational at gritty Rockaway Beach in Queens, N.Y. It was a special honor to be invited, she said, “because Joel Tudor picks the contestants, and he’s a longboard god,” Seale said. A two-time world champion, “Joel’s style is something we all look up to: effortless, loose, and he reads the wave perfectly.”
Seale’s top role model, however, is the late world champion Rell Sunn, “being from Hawaii, with her classic style, a woman’s style.”
Longboarding, which has been around for centuries since Hawaiians invented surfing on boards hewn from tree trunks, is having a renaissance as young surfers embrace its fun, flowing, retro air. Duct Tape competitors, for example, are required to ride a 60s-style, single-fin board known as a log, ideal for noseriding and hanging ten, Seale said.
Sally Cohen, however, said she liked the “ride what you like” motto of the Surf Relik Invitational, in which she scored her first pro event win on a three-fin, high-performance longboard at Lower Trestles in San Onofre State Beach, Calif. Trestles had steep, fast waves “not meant for logging,” Cohen said. “Relik’s judges want to see you do everything you can on a longboard, not just noseriding.”
A former shortboard contestant, Cohen “didn’t like the vibe too much. It was very competitive.” She was about to quit surfing when some girlfriends took her longboarding at Waikiki. While less exciting, fast and unpredictable than shortboarding, longboarding captivated her. “It’s like you’re floating, and when you’re hanging ten it feels like you’re flying.”
While still competitive, longboarders are “more of a family, more laid back,” Cohen said.
Seale agreed, noting that sharing contest waves is rewarded with extra prize money in Duct Tape invitationals.
In the Joel Tudor final, Seale shared a wave with Waikiki native Haley Otto, 15. “We both hung ten, then she jumped on my board and I hung five.”
The final included Kelis Kaleopaa, 14, of Waikiki, who took second place, and current world champ Chloe Calmon of Brazil, with whom Seale shared a semifinal wave. In Hawaii surfers: Honolua Blomfield and Kaniela Stewart, respectively, won the women’s and men’s Longboard Classic New York.
Upcoming on the longboard circuit are the Duct Tape Invitational in Japan Nov. 1-3, and the WSL Taiwan Open World Longboard Champs in Taiwan Dec. 1-7.
While the upcoming first-ever surf competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be shortboard only, Hawaii longboarders will likely be in prime position if the category is added in 2024.