Rip Curl team rider Alana Blanchard fended off a talented playing field to seal victory at the first ever T & C Surf Women’s Pipeline Championship held at Oahu’s renowned Banzai Pipeline on March 11-12.
Because this was the first women’s event ever to be held on the North Shore’s most treacherous break, all eyes were on the ladies as they charged the 4-8 foot ledgey conditions. Despite competing against the world’s number 8-ranked surfer in Melanie Bartels, as well as seasoned 44-year old charger Kim Hamrock, Blanchard braved Pipe’s power to emerge victorious and $500 richer.
“I just wanted to come here and do the best I could, Blanchard humbly stated after her victory. “I didn’t think I had that many good rides, but I guess it was the same for everyone.
Blanchard displayed her capability to perform with the best of ’em all throughout the event. She advanced through her quarterfinal heat, merely on the strength of one wave; however, her one wave scored a 9.0. In her final heat, Blanchard selected the bigger, cleaner waves and surfed them smoothly to rack up a 2-wave heat tally of 13.16.
Along with the historic victory, Blanchard completes the “trifecta, standing in the winner’s circle along with 2004 Rip Curl Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien and 2005 Monster Energy Pipe champion Pancho Sullivan.
So what’s next for the young, Kauai phenom? Blanchard plans to continue pushing herself against the world’s best competition in this year’s 4-star Body Glove Surfbout at Lower Trestles. She then will set her eyes upon claiming this year’s NSSA National title, which will also be held at San Clemente’s renowned Lower Trestles.