Kauai Style: Wave Sliding & Free Surfing
Intro Lauren Rolland
Interview By Jericho Rell
Born and raised in Hanalei, seventeen-year-old longboarder Natalia Smith has had solid accomplishments over the past two years. Last April at the 2013 Hawai‘i Surfing Association State Championships on Oahu, the surfer showed impressive versatility by placing in four different categories, nabbing gold in the Girls U-17 Longboard division and silver in the Girls U-17 Stand-Up Paddle division.
Currently competing in HSA events all over the state, the Kauai native recently took first place at the Pinetrees contest and is eager to begin the summer competition season. With the mindset of training hard, Natalia is preparing to perform well in these upcoming events with the hopes of returning to China again for the Women’s Longboard World Tour. In 2012, the free surfer placed equal 13th at the Swatch Girls Pro China hosted by Wanning and looks brightly toward the future of her career in surfing.
DOB: July 10, 1996
Home break: Hanalei, Kauai
Tell us about how you first started surfing.
My parents bought me my first surfboard when I was three years old and I haven’t stopped surfing ever since. I learned to surf mostly next to the pier until I developed the skills needed to go all the way out to the Bowl in Hanalei.
I really love classic style longboards because I feel like they highlight my style. My favorite board is a 9’0 square tail, three stringer, shaped by Mark Sausen.
Favorite surf break?
The bowl at Hanalei Bay is my favorite surf break. That is usually where you can find me every afternoon.
Where have you traveled this year and what is your dream travel destination?
This year I have traveled to Tahiti and Brazil so far. My dream destinations are probably Fiji or the Maldives.
What has been the highlight of this year?
The highlight of this year for me was probably getting the opportunity to surf in Tahiti. The water is so amazing and the surf breaks there really drive you to test your abilities in the water.
Tell us about your training techniques.
I paddle a 6-man canoe three times a week as a big part of my training. It keeps me fit and works out my upper body. Although sometimes I am very busy with schoolwork, I do my best to surf every day as well.
Do you have any sponsors?
I don’t have any main sponsors. My mother and I Heart Hanalei are my main sponsors, however, I am really hoping to find one sometime in the near future.
So your parents are a big influence. Tell us more about them.
My mother owns I Heart Hanalei and she spends a lot of hours in her store. She is who inspired me to develop my passion for surfing, as she cannot go through the day without getting in a morning session. My dad is a firefighter in Hanalei. He is also an avid skier, and led me to really enjoy skiing since I was very young. My mother is from Brazil and my father is from Idaho, which means I get to visit both places often and enjoy both cultures.
I enjoy canoe paddling as a second sport. It keeps me in shape and also in the water. I am also definitely very interested in fashion. Because my mother owns a shop, I am exposed to clothes and fashions very often. Fashion excites me, and I plan to possibly minor in Fashion Design when I am in college.
Who are your surfing inspirations?
So many people in the surfing world inspire me. Kelly Slater is an inspiration to me because he has shown such consistency in his surfing and I think that is a gift. He also promotes clean eating, and I hope to follow that example. Laird Hamilton also inspires me. He surfs out at Hanalei Bay often and it is amazing to see someone surf so smoothly. Lastly, I admire Kassia Meador because of her surfing style.
What are your surfing goals for the year?
This year I want to train different maneuvers and perfect my surfing. I also have the goal of qualifying for the Women’s Longboard Tour in China again. If I do so, my goal is to place better than my last result.
Describe your love for longboarding.
Longboarding illustrates such finesse and that’s why I love it. It’s graceful and beautiful to watch. I love the feeling I get when I’m in the water surfing, there’s none better. It’s so rewarding when you catch a great wave that makes your session or even your whole day. There are so many good things that come along with surfing and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.