Log Chats Vol. 1 | Honolua Blomfield
The year is 2012. The Southside of the H.B. Pier is inundated with scrawny, gap-toothed groms looking to make a name for themselves at the NSSA Nationals. To put things in perspective, Zeke Lau with an arm full of tattoos won the Open Mens title that year, looking like he could have eaten every single one of the U14 competitors in a single day. Seth Moniz was competing in Open Boys and Tatiana Weston Webb was in Open Womens. All three are now on tour.
I happened to be one of these bright-eyed groms. Having grown up in New York, if you wanted to surf in the summer, you were riding a longboard. I always competed in both divisions, getting consistently and definitively smoked by what are now some of the world’s best surfers.
It was amazing.
While my shortboarding prowess never fully developed, I knew my way around a log. I had made it to the semi-finals of the Open Longboard division, of which both boys and girls competed. What happened is probably my finest sporting moment ever.
With a minute or so remaining and needing a score, I paddled across an oncoming peak hoping to go right. I was met by a fellow competitor hoping to go left. Our noses crossed, then uncrossed, with both of us somehow making the wave in our desired directions. The competitor in question? 3x Women’s world longboard champion Honolua Blomfield.
While my career in surfing has taken a markedly different turn than hers, I am incredibly honored to have gotten the opportunity to speak with her regarding her past year and current trajectory for the first edition of Log Chats.
Zack: Amateur longboarding has open divisions in which boys and girls often compete against each other. How do you feel that impacted your surfing and do you have any memories of taking out some big names growing up?
Honolua: I don’t have memories of taking anyone person out specifically but I DO have memories of competing with all of the boys at nationals. It was definitely good practice because boys tend to develop physically a bit younger than girls, which made it a challenge at an early age. I’ve always just wanted to compete with the best of the best, boys included.
One year I went to the ISA World Junior Games in Peru and I had already had experience surfing with the boys. Myself and Lola (Mignot) were the only girls in the competition and I somehow ended up winning and beating every one of the boys in the competition. That was cool.
Savage is the word I’d use. Now with 3x world titles, you’ve now cemented yourself as not only one of the winningest longboarders ever, but winningest surfers ever, putting yourself in the same category as the Medinas, Mick Fannings, Andy Irons and Joel Tudors of the world. How does that feel?
Honestly since then it still doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe it. Two world titles is one thing but when you hit three I feel like it’s a whole different level. Being able to share that with such few people, all of which are amazing surfers in their own right, is really special as well.
At your age it’s feasible that you could win 11x world titles like another pretty famous surfer… Is that something you think about? Do you ever think you’ll have “enough”.
Ever since I can remember I’ve loved competition. I feel like I’ve learned how to keep myself composed which has helped a lot. As I compete more and surf more heats I feel like I’m only getting better at the strategic, competitive aspect which is a big part of surfing in my mind. I’m thankful I’ve competed since I was four and have all of that experience. I’ve obviously done it a few times now so I hope to keep that momentum. I’m very grateful for the ones that I have, but I’m not gonna slow down that’s for sure
Well, I would be very sad if you did. On that note, the tour has famously
switched its judging criteria this year. Hawaii has long bred what many consider to be the top tier of high-performance longboarders. I’m talking Bonga, Kai Sallas… the list goes on. What’s your overall take on the disparity between the two?
I grew up riding high-performance surfboards. I feel like Hawaii has always bred that style of surfer due to the wave quality we have here. If you sent someone whose never been here out on a log to Pipe/Backdoor on a log they would be so lost. It takes years to be comfortable on a heavier board in bigger surf, so it makes sense why we all came up on lighter, performance longboards.
I got my first log when I was 10 and I loved the idea of surfing relaxed. With that, the high-performance boards definitely shaped the surfer I am today. Transferring to a log at such a young age helped me learn how to ride a heavier board in bigger waves.
The WSL’s updated judging criteria went into effect this year. You’ve now won world titles with multiple judging criteria in place. Did you feel more or less comfortable in 2021 than in year’s past?
It’s definitely changed a lot, but there is no set format where they tell you ‘oh you have to ride this board.’ I’d still ride the best board to do my best surfing. At the wave pool my board was too heavy for the power that wave has. I’ve learned you can’t be riding the ‘traditional’ heavier log that I’d like to be riding for that reason. I actually had to switch my equipment mid-contest to acclimate to the wave pool whereas Malibu I could ride whatever board I felt comfortable on.
I’m thrilled on the format and the direction it’s taken everyone’s surfing. I got to ride a log at Malibu and win a world title at events where I was surfing exclusively single fins. That was always a big goal of mine and so to do that is pretty insane. It’s come a long way.
How do you feel about the amount of stops currently on tour? Do you think 3 is enough or do you think there could be more?
I’m a believer in there being as many events as possible. It’s not fair to only have 1 or 2 events because anyone can surf a bad contest or have a bad heat, but when you have the overall total of 4 it gives everyone the opportunity to do their best. If there is 4 contest then the best surfer will win. I think there were 2 events during my first title year, 4 the second and then 3 this last year. I didn’t do good in Noosa! Having 2 more events this year gave me the chance to do well overall. I definitely do not agree with the 1 or 2 event strategy and I don’t think that should decide the world title, but again, that’s just my opinion.
You’re the winningest competitor currently on tour, your opinion matters. Devon has obviously done a fantastic job this first year with the criteria and the schedule. If you had to pick 1 more wave you’d like to add to the schedule what would it be?
I don’t think this is possible due to permit reasons but I’d love to see an event in Hawaii. Chuns maybe? I don’t know if there’s ever been a contest ran there but that would be insane because it’s such a good longboard wave. I get not everyone wants to surf Hawaii or “gnarly” waves on a longboard so maybe I’m alone in that one.
Obviously you won the contest at the pool, any thoughts on that continuing to be on tour?
I’m ok with that for sure. The only thing I’d change about that contest is the format. Surfing and doing the same thing over and over on a wave is tiring. Every contest at the pool is loooong days. I think it’s a lot of surfing and this last year was a really hard one in particular, but as for the wave itself, I don’t mind it.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that when you were a kid you used to surf regular and goofy. Do you think that helped you make your now infamous switch 10 at the pool?
Maybe?! I think being confused in my stance when I was young helped a bit. My mom was regular so she wanted me to be regular, so I ended up being like my Mom. Honestly I feel weirdly a little more comfortable noseriding switch than I do regular. It feels really natural for me to surf goofy, which is maybe a subconscious thing. I’ve been surfing switch for years at this left in Hawaii and it took 2 years to even be able to get to the nose. At one point a switch flipped in my brain and now it feels great!
When I was a kid one of my goals was to win a World Title going both ways, Rusty Keaulana was my inspiration and he could do both, so I wanted to be like him.
Do you have any other memorable 10’s?
Honestly, no. That wave alone was a career wave for me. I don’t even know what came over me, I was just thinking ‘what can I possibly do to beat Soleil right now.’ The only idea I had prior was that it was easier to get barreled frontside there. I was falling on the backside barrels anyway and I didn’t want to out run the section, it just came naturally. I was mind blown when it happened!
Favorite board in your quiver right now?
I’ve been liking this Harmonic I have from Wayne. Honestly, I don’t even know the size. I’ve had never actually ridden one of his boards in Hawaii but it fits in bigger waves really well!
Longboarders notoriously love going frontside. Joel aside, did you feel like regular footers had an advantage at Malibu with it being a notoriously tricky wave to read well?
I don’t have as strong opinion on this one. The only thing I’ll say is that I feel anyone looks better frontside on a longboard.
The tour’s current construct has 2x right points and one wave pool. Do you think this gives regular footers an advantage?
I do have a strong opinion on this. They held the World Longboard Championships at a left for 4 years straight, so no I don’t think there needs to be a left. I had to deal with China, then even in Taiwan they switched it up last minute and it was held in a left there as well, so no. It would be cool and wouldn’t matter to me, but I don’t think its a big deal that there isn’t one.
If you had a pet orangutan what would you name it and would you take it surfing?
Of course I’d take it surfing, and I’d name it Banana.
At 22 years old, 3x World Surf Champion is a brand’s dream for the now not-so-new influencer marketing space. I see you’ve been dabbling in some of that. How’d that come about?
Personally I’ve never liked being an “influencer.” I like Instagram mostly just to share my surfing with everyone. I’m not the biggest fan of social media deals… but the income is good and if the price is right I can be convinced. I ike to keep it core.
I saw you just resigned with O'Neill after 13 years, how’d that feel?
It’s insane. To be with a company that I’ve been riding for since I was 9 years old is amazing. I love being a part of their family, I couldn’t have imagined it any other way! I hope to be with them for as long as I can.
Thank you Hono!
This is the first iteration of Log Chats in what will be a monthly interview series of conversations with longboarding’s elite, exclusively available on LogRap.com