Two Ends of the Spectrum at the Malibu Classic
The longboard world tour ended with a bang this week at Malibu, one of the spiritual homes of traditional surfing. Blessed with a late-season southern hemisphere swell, First Point lit up with long, dreamy walls that were perfect for noseriding. When the dust settled, we crowned two world champions from opposite ends of the age spectrum—but the one thing they both had in common was world-class surfing.
Photo of Joel by WSL / THOMAS LODIN
At 45 years old, Joel Tudor had done it all. He’d won two longboard world championships, single-handedly brought traditional longboarding back to the mainstream, and started the Duct Tape Invitational tour, which is the most sought-after invitation-only event for young loggers. But a talent like Tudor is never satisfied, and after he won the first event of this strange, two-year COVID-19 season at Noosa back in 2020, there were whispers that he might try for his third title. Joel didn’t do well at the Surf Ranch last month, so he came into Malibu as an underdog, but after Eduardo Delpero fell out of the event early, the door was opened for a third world title. All Joel had to do was finish ahead of Harrison Roach, the uber-stylish logger from Noosa. Both surfers were on fire through the quarters, but Harrison peaked too early and ended up falling to a rampaging Ben Skinner in the semis. When Tudor won his semifinal heat 30 minutes later, he clinched his third world title and set the record for the oldest longboard world title in history.
Photo of Honolua by WSL / Mike ItoHonolua Blomfield was an entirely different story. The defending world champion from 2019, she came into the Malibu event way ahead of the rest of the tour in terms of points and was the clear favorite for the title. Her destiny was in her hands from the start, and when she won her quarterfinal heat in dominant fashion, she clinched her third world title—the youngest person to have ever won three.
Honolua ended up winning her semifinal as well and matched up against Alice Lemoigne in the final—a rematch from the last final of 2019, which Honolua won to clinch her second world title. Lemoigne was the clear underdog of the heat, as Honolua had been the form surfer of the entire event, but the French surfer from Reunion Island paddled out with nothing to prove and ended up going nuts on the long Malibu walls. She put together two epic rides and stole the event title from Honolua—but the Hawaiian didn’t seem to mind, as she was busy celebrating her third world title.
Photo of Ben by WSL / THOMAS LODIN
Tudor’s final heat was against the big British surfer Ben Skinner, who was looking loose and relaxed and spending ungodly amounts of time on the nose. But there’s arguably no one in the world who is better at Malibu First Point than Joel Tudor, and he ended up styling his way to an event win to go along with this third world title.
Waikiki surfer Kai Sallas also had a good showing at the event, making it to the quarterfinals and finishing the year rated third overall. Meanwhile, the North Shore’s Kirra Seale surfed on a freshly broken foot (she injured it four days before the event) and also managed to make the quarters, which moved her into equal ninth on the year-end ratings—enough to requalify her for the tour next year. And next year should be an exciting one, especially for the Hawaiians on tour! According to longboard tour commissioner Devon Howard, in addition to events at Malibu and possibly the Surf Ranch, the WSL is in talks with the City and County of Honolulu about bringing the longboard world tour to Waikiki. Imagine watching Hawaii’s best longboarders battle it out for the crown at Queens, just down the road from Hawaiian South Shore. Fingers crossed the event gets approved. We can’t wait for next season!