I just spent the day watching the Cuervo Surf Ranch Classic, where 36 of the world’s best male and female longboarders competed for world tour points at Kelly Slater’s wave pool.

My first impression was that the Surf Ranch wasn’t built for longboarding! The wave is perfect, but for longboarding it just seemed a little too fast and a little too big—not quite ideal for noseriding, which is the main focus of the new, revamped longboard world tour with its emphasis on traditional surfing. Surf, people were hanging five all over the wave, but hanging 10 looked super difficult on the wave, and we didn’t see any of the extended 10s that we normally see at perfect, waist-high logging waves like Noosa. After watching for a few hours, I started to wonder if maybe it was a mistake to bring the longboard world tour to the Surf Ranch—if it wasn’t making longboard look a little bit boring and pedestrian, compared to the shortboard world tour that the wave was originally designed for (and even compared to longboarding in the ocean.

Then Honolua Blomfield paddled out for the final, and within less than a minute she changed my mind. The former longboarding world champion from the North Shore of Oahu took off on a left, immediately switched stance, then cross-stepped to the nose for a long, extended switch-foot hang five. She then switched back to regular stance while still on the nose and hung five before walking back to the tail—and the wave was only just getting started! After stylishly navigating a few sections, she cross-stepped back up to the nose (regular this time) for a long hang five to hang 10 combo, then walked back to the tail and switched stance again, just in time for a long, deep switch-stance barrel on the end section!

This was easily the best wave surfed all day, by both the men and women, and it immediately scored a perfect 10. Honolua ended up winning the event for the women, backing her left up with a solid 8.5 on the right and beating out fellow former world champion Soleil Errico. Meanwhile, another former world champion, Eduardo Delpero, beat defending world champion Justin Quintal, Harrison Roach, and Waikiki legend Kai Sallas in the men’s final to take the win.

I am still not sure if longboarding fits the canvas of the Surf Ranch, but I will tell you one thing—Honolua’s surfing is mind-blowing no matter where she goes. Congrats to the winners, and to all of Hawaii’s competitors at the Cuervo Surf Ranch Classic!

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