California-based ripper Tia Blanco took out back-to-back world champion titles at the 2015 and 2016 ISA World Surfing Games – joining the likes of Sally Fitz, CJ Hobgood, Julian Wilson, Tatiana Weston-Webb, who all claimed that title before her.
But where do you go next? Within our industry, it is the ISA and WSL that crown world champions – yet the formats are so very different. If you win a gold medal at the ISA Games, that goes towards a collective pot for your country and you are the ISA World Games champion. The country with the most medals when the competition closes are crowned the winning nation, similar to the Olympics. Much different than the individual league format of the WSL.
Yet, let us not forget, the ISA has helped shape the careers of some your most loved protagonists, who are now the poster men and women for the dream tour. And, just as a fresh edit drops featuring Tia talking about her self-confidence and much more, we decided to have a quick catch up with the 20-year-old from San Clemente - running through the extreme QS grind, those ISA wins and what is next.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you get into surfing?
My dad is in the military, so we've moved every three years. He's also in the coastguard, therefore we have always been by the ocean. It was just natural for me to be a surfer. I started when I was three and never stopped.
Competing in, and winning the gold medal, at the 2015 ISA world games must have been such an experience. Was that your expectations and how was competing on that sort of stage?
I go into every competition wanting to win and for this event specifically the stars aligned for me. I was able to get the best waves in the heat and showcase my surfing in the final. It was one of my most memorable moments and I was so honoured to represent my country.
So, how has life changed since then?
Not much has changed. I am still competing and training hard.
You've entered a couple of QS events this year – are you planning to go for a CT spot, or just keeping in that competitive frame of mind?
Flicking through your Insty and the description is pro surfer, vegan, yogi. How intertwined are all those aspects?
All of those things are what makes me who I am and all come hand in hand with one another. Surfing, healthy eating and practising yoga is my lifestyle.
For those who are considering a vegan lifestyle, what are some the challenges and benefits?
The benefits are endless and different for everyone personally, but by going vegan you are tremendously helping out the environment and animals. The challenges would have to be dealing with people who have a problem with the diet [laughs]. I can't tell you how many of the same jokes I hear from people regarding vegans.
Any tips you can give for those about to take up the vegan way of life? And what are some of the benefits?
Find inspiration. Look for people, books, and documentaries about veganism that will help and inspire you. For example , What the Health is a great documentary on Netflix out now. Being a vegan definitely gives you lots of energy.
How important is social media in getting yourself out there? There seems to be this love/hate relationship with using such platforms. But is it now obligatory and a useful self-marketing tool?
I really enjoy my social media because it has kind of been like an online diary of all my travels and experiences. It also just so happens to be a way of marketing myself. However, I keep my platforms as authentic as possible.
Let's talk about training - are your workouts focused around improving your surfing or general well-being? Do you try and strike a balance or are both intrinsically linked?
I think my workouts focus on both.
In terms of why you surf, there's a few types of people. Those who go out purely with a competitive mindset, those who want to build it in as a part of a lifestyle and those who do just because it is fun. Then there's those who take little aspects from all the above and more. What motivates you?
I definitely can relate to all those types of people. My approach in surfing always depends on how I am feeling , the time of year, and the waves.
And what's next in the world of Tia Blanco?
Hopefully doing well in competitions and continuing to live my dream life.