At 18 years old, Alana Blanchard is a surf sponsor’s dream: a fearless competitor with model good looks. As a rookie on the ASP Women’s World Qualifying Series (WQS), Alana is currently ranked No.5 and making a serious charge at her dream of qualifying for the World Championship Tour.
The young ripper, born and raised in Hanalei, Kauai, had a stellar year in 2007, winning the Women’s Pipeline Championships, the Rip Curl Girls Festival Jr. Pro event in Spain, the Roxy Pro Trials in Haleiwa, as well as the Billabong Pro Pre-Trials event at Ho’okipa, Maui. Alana capped off the year by making the finals and taking fourth place at the NSSA Nationals at Lower Trestles. Now she’s surfing for precious points and cash…
A third place finish at this year’s 6-Star Midori Pro in Australia, along with a solid result at the Vans Pier Classic and consistent showings throughout the first half of the WQS schedule have landed Alana at No.5 – within striking distance of the WCT. The top six women from the WQS will make that leap to centre stage in women’s pro surfing.
We caught up with Alana for a quick chat after an uncharacteristic performance at the Honda U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, where she was knocked out in her first heat. While this may drop her from her current ranking, Alana is staying positive: “I still have the two 6-stars in Portugal and Haleiwa, so hopefully I’ll do better in those.”
This is your first full season on the QS, are you enjoying the travel or is it getting to be a grind?
At first it was a little tough, but now that I’m getting used to it…it’s fun. I like it, but I do miss home a lot. Sometimes I’m away for a month at a time.
What’s your plan for the remainder of the schedule?
From here I’ll go do the 6-Star in Portugal. If I do good, then I might not have to go to Brazil. But if I do bad in Portugal, I’ll have to go to Brazil in October for the two 4-star events down there that are back to back.
How does it feel to be sitting in the No.5 spot mid-way through the WQS schedule?
It’s pretty exciting…but it’s also pretty stressful. I need to focus on trying to make finals or semis…make the WCT…that’s all I’m thinking about.
How would your life change if you qualified for the WCT?
That’s my main goal right now, so I’d just be so happy to get there. Then I could just focus on staying on the WCT and trying to win a title.
Which boards have been working best for you this season?
I just got some new ones from Steve Boysen and they’ve been working really good. I really like the 5-9 squash tails. He made them a little wider and pinched in the rails a bit; they’re working super good even in small waves.
Have you ordered boards for this winter on the North Shore?
Not yet, but I think we’re going to start working on those pretty soon. I’ll probably get some 6-6’s and a maybe some 7-2’s for Sunset.
If you do qualify for the WCT, how are you going to celebrate?
I think I’ll celebrate at home with my friends and family. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about that yet!
Alana is supported by: Rip Curl, Sanuk, SB Surfboards, LifeFitness, Spy, Vertra sun protection, LifeFitness, Future Fins and Hanalei Surf Shop.