Teenage surf sensation Tia Blanco proved she can compete with the adults as she took part in the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro in Spain. Tia has been very successful as a junior but now competes against the adults after turning 18 earlier this year.
The competition was part of the World Qualifier Series of the World Surfing League, with points counting towards World Championship Tour qualification. Surfers from around the world were competing in mixed gender groups of four surfers until the semi finals when they were separated into men and women.
Tia qualified for the quarter finals where she faced Barbadian Chelsea Tuach in a low scoring and tense contest where the lead changed hand several times. Tia lost by a small margin (10.40 to 8.67) to to exit the competition, while the surfer who eliminated her went on to qualify for and win the final.
Tia snatched a few moments to tell us how pleased she was with her first competition. “I was pretty excited to get all the way to the quarters at Pantin. This is my best finish in a six star and it gave me the confidence that I can in fact compete with the best girls in the world.”
Later she reflected: "Competing in the Qualifying Series events is very different from the junior events. It is kind of like when you are in 8th grade in middle school you are the smartest at your school, but then you graduate and move on to high school and you have to start from the bottom again. My goal is to "graduate" from the Q.S. events and make it to the Championship Tour. My first year doing the Q.S. events was hard and humbling. At the start of this season I ranked #58 on the Q.S. and now that the season is over I rank #20. So I am very happy to see that I made some progress! In this contest in Pantin I finished with my best result (making the quarters, with an equal 5th place). It is all a journey and I am so happy I am on the journey."
She also told us a bit about travelling as a vegan.
"If something is important to you, you can make it happen. I simply bring my super foods (and other foods) from home, go to a local grocery store, and get cooking! Sometimes if I do not have a kitchen and we eat out, I simply ask the chef to work with me. I have never travelled to a place where I could not be vegan. I always make it work."
We’ll be watching her progress with interest and hoping for more success from GVAs second youngest vegan athlete.