Hawaii duo Stewart and Blomfield Victorious at Longboard Classic New York
(World Surf League) - The World Surf League (WSL) Men and Women's Longboard Classic New York supported by I LOVE NY crowned Kaniela Stewart (HAW) and Honolua Blomfield (HAW) its respective inaugural victors on the shores of Long Beach on Tuesday. The Hawaiian duo put on an immaculate display throughout a hefty finals day draw that required both Stewart and Blomfield to leave everything in the water each heat. Respective runner-ups Jefson Silva (BRA) and Chloe Calmon (BRA) fell just short of their own Brasilian sweep but did their part of powering through a massive day of competition.
After an extraordinary week of performances from Stewart, the 18-year-old completed an imminent run to the podium in stunning fashion and capped it off with his first-ever WSL victory. Stewart's 7.57 (out of a possible 10) at the 13-minute mark gave him plenty of steam to extend his lead over Silva and immediately followed it up with a 6.77 to all but secure it. Everything fell into place for one of the youngest competitors on the LT and when the final horn sounded his fellow Hawaii natives rushed to the water line to welcome him in.
"It's so amazing to win my first event ever and just thought 'oh my goodness, that just happened," Stewart said. "Hopefully there's plenty more to come and I'm just stoked right now. Jefson's a blackbelt in surfing too and it was hard to find two good ones but I can't believe I did. I woke up this morning and saw the waves thinking this is finals day, it's doable. Coming up against guys like Cole (Robbins) today and it was amazing to get a nine in that heat. Then I had Steven (Sawyer) and thought 'uh-oh, this is the World Champ.' He's got way more experience than me so that win was huge and this is just so amazing."
Stewart's near-perfect 9.07 against Cole Robbins (USA) in the Quarterfinals notched the day's top single-wave score and heat total of 16.90 (out of a possible 20). This win moves Stewart into No. 2 on the LT ranks heading into Taiwan and now offers the opportunity for his maiden World Title race among the world's best to cap off an incredible year.
Before Stewart took his first-career win, a third-consecutive Final between Blomfield and current No. 1 Calmon and they delivered another brilliant showdown. An early exchange put Calmon out in front with a 6.67 (out of a possible 10) but the 2017 WSL World Champion from Hawaii earned a 6.00 of her own to keep the pressure before a quick 3.67 put her out in front moments later. However, Calmon answered right back to regain the lead but not before Blomfield fired her response with the heat's best wave of a 6.73 and held that lead until the horn sounded to claim her first win of 2019, and first victory since 2017.
"I'm feeling pretty awesome right now and you know what they say, third time's the charm (laughs)," Blomfield said. "I was favoring this little right coming in and it seemed to be pretty consistent. I just tried to maneuver my way into some waves and somehow it worked. This is my first time riding a heavy single fin in a WSL event and so I thought it was pretty cool it was on my Two Crows board since they were the first ones to ever shape me a log when I was ten years old. I've just been enjoying this year and having the best time competing with my friends and hopefully I'll keep this momentum going into Taiwan but I'm just super stoked to win here in New York so I'm just on top of the world."
Blomfield's finals day draw was no easy task having to take down 2015 WSL World Champion Rachael Tilly (USA) for a third time in the Semifinals this season to ensure another Final appearance. The win inches her closer to Calmon, closing the gap to just 1,500 points, before the finale in Taiwan December 1 - 7.