OCEANSIDE — Tia Blanco, of Oceanside, landed a first place win in this summer’s ISA World Surfing championships.
“I never won anything that big,” Blanco said. “I would always get second.”
“I believed in myself, and knew I could do it,” she added. “A lot of it is mental.”
The final competition was held in Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua. Waves were reported to be 6 to 12 feet. Unlike most competitions, that run three to four days, the ISA championships is 10 days long.
“I gave it my best, and tried not to peak too early,” Blanco said. “I was confident through the whole event. The (USA) team was very encouraging. The energy was positive.”
“It was an amazing experience,” she added. “It’s a lot of hard work, but the feeling of winning is so rewarding.”
Oceanside City Council recognized Blanco for her victory at its Sept. 16 meeting.
Blanco, 18, has been surfing since she was 3 years old, but did not start competing until she was 11.
“I won my first contest by putting everything I had into it,” Blanco said.
Since then she has competed regularly, which has not always been easy.
In addition to her dedication to a healthy diet, rigorous training and time in the water, she has faced the challenge of relocations. Her father served in the Marines for 20 years, and retired this year.
Luckily he has been consistently stationed by an ocean. Blanco was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in California and Hawaii.
“We moved a bunch,” Blanco said.
She said it got scary when there was a possibility that her dad would be stationed in Alabama, but it all worked out.
“Alabama is not very surfing-oriented,” Blanco said.
Her father’s final station assignment was Camp Pendleton. Blanco said now that her dad is retired, she and her family can call Oceanside their permanent home.
“We’ll always be near the ocean,” Blanco said.
Blanco said along with its demands, surfing in competitions also brings world travel and meeting new friends. She said even on the ISA World tour, which invites 27 international teams that speak different languages, friendships are made by traveling and surfing together.
Blanco said she will continue to surf in junior competitions for one more year. She added she is beginning to get her feet wet in professional surf contests, and is working to qualify for next year’s pro series.
Blanco will also be competing in a junior ISA event in Oceanside later this month.