Alana Blanchard has just been given the wildcard for the women’s event at the 2019 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal. This wildcard gives her the chance to once again compete against the world’s best surfers in at one of the heaviest barrels in the world, Supertubos.
Alana had the opportunity to compete at the first-ever World Tour event at Supertubos back in 2009, when it was the Rip Curl Pro Search. As this is the first time the women have returned to Supertubos since 2011, Alana will be among a select few female athletes who have had experience competing at the wave.
We had the opportunity to catch up with her in the lead-up to the event to talk all things Supertubos, Wildcard and World Tour.
How are you feeling about getting the wildcard to the Rip Curl Pro Portugal?
I am super excited, especially to have the opportunity to surf Supertubos. It’s been my goal this year to get into a CT event, and it feels good that the time has come! I am actually coming off a back injury so I haven’t been able to surf that much in the last few months, but even so I’m feeling really strong and I can’t wait to get the jersey on again.
You had the opportunity to compete here in 2009… how do you feel about coming back to compete at Supertubos again?
You know, it’s such a tricky wave! We actually ran at the other site over at Baleal in 2009 and that was super fun, we got really good waves. I remember back then thinking what a hectic wave it was, so gnarly – I think a lot of the guys that year got hurt. I was only 18 at the time though, so things are definitely different now. I surfed it the other day when it was pretty big and I started thinking how sick it was, it’s almost like a Pipeline on the beach. I’m really excited to compete at Supertubos again, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous!
And tell us about your back injury… what happened there?
I actually injured my back earlier this year in February, and I didn’t realise how severe it was. I had a few back spasms and they just didn’t go away. You don’t realise how serious back injuries can be – I got to a stage where I couldn’t do much. I finally realised that I just needed to rest and rehab my back.
Jack, Banks and I had plans to come to Europe so I was aiming for Europe as my goal to be healthy again, and I feel like I am at least 95%. It’s definitely a lot better, and I’m super focused on doing exercises and making sure I’m strong.
After having a baby and continuing to surf, you can really do a number on your back. Being a rotation sport, a lot of surfers have back injuries – that’s something I didn’t really even know until now. Being a surfer is hard on your body, and we have to train to ensure we don’t get injured! And I mean, being a mom adds to it – Banks if 40 pounds, and I basically carry around a 40-point weight all day!
And we heard a rumour that you were considering putting some time in on the QS this next year?
I mean, yes, I am definitely going to do some QS events next year. I don’t know if my rating will let me get into some of the 10,000s, but that’s what my goal is. They’ve put some a huge emphasis on making the women’s World Tour so much better, and I would love to be a part of it. I feel stronger than ever, despite my back injuries, and it would be so fun. I would love to start the year off great and win a 10,000 – but we’ll see how it goes, you never know what the year throws at you. This year was hard because every time there was a contest my back went out, and I have tried to take that as a learning. I am super positive at the moment about the future and my focus is to just get stronger and stronger.
Why now? After so many years, what has made you decide you’re ready to try and come back to the World Tour?
Honestly when I was doing the Tour I was so young, and I feel so much more mentally stable now. I feel more aware of things that I wasn’t then, and some things bothered me then that don’t now.
I’m a lot different now, in how I think – and I think if I made Tour I would handle it a lot better now. I was doing it by myself and I was 18 years old, I never had anyone travelling with me, and it was a lot. Nowadays I have a support group and that’s such a big thing. It would be a different story, and I’m excited to see what is possible.