After a week that saw the best longboard surfers in the world take on epic, hurricane-fueled swell in Long Beach, New York, it was Hawaii's Kaniela Stewart and Honolua Blomfield that not only took the win at the first-ever Longboard Classic New York, but also helped usher in a new era for the WSL World Longboard Tour.
For Stewart, it was his first career win on the World Longboard Tour -- and it didn't come easy.
"It's so amazing to win my first event ever and just thought ‘oh my goodness, that just happened,'" Stewart said afterwards. "Hopefully there's plenty more to come and I'm just stoked right now."
The 18-year-old Hawaiian not only had to get by the 2x World Longboard Champ Joel Tudor earlier in the contest (which he comfortably did in a significant passing-of-the-torch moment), but also faced 2018 World Longboard Champ Steven Sawyer in the Semifinals and an in-form Brazilian Jefson Silva in the Final.
"I woke up this morning and saw the waves thinking this is Finals day, it's doable," continued Stewart. "I had Steven and thought ‘Uh-oh, this is the World Champ.' He's got way more experience than me, so that win was huge. And Jefson's a blackbelt in surfing and it was hard to find two good ones, I can't believe I did it."
Blomfield's journey to the top of the podium on the women's side of the draw was also rich on adversity and challenges. The last time Blomfield won a WSL longboard event was back in 2017, but finding her groove in New York, she was able to get by 2015 World Longboard Champ Rachael Tilly in the Semifinals and current World Number 1 Chloe Calmon in the Final, who's edged out Bloomfield in their last two Finals together.
"I've just been enjoying this year and having the best time competing with my friends," said Blomfield after the Final. "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."
For their effort, both Stewart and Blomfield move to second on the World Longboard Tour leaderboard. For the men, the United States' Justin Quintal sits in first with a 3,350-point lead over Stewart. For the women, Calmon sits atop the leaderboard, a mere 1,500 point in front of Blomfield.
The 2019 World Longboard Title will be decided at the Taiwan Open World Longboard Champs this December.