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Local surfers have gained attention as determined role models, successful competitors
By Sean Robb
Two local surfers have gained national attention recently for their talent and determination. Tia Blanco and Meg Roh are still in high school. And while they have different stories, both share a love of surfing and a promising future.
Blanco, 17, a junior professional surfer and vegan from San Clemente, has recently become a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, starring in one of the organization’s newest video campaigns.
“I feel great being vegan,” Blanco said. “And, I don’t want to be a part of animals’ suffering.”
Roh, 15, a longboarder from Dana Point, was also recently in the spotlight after completing 1,095 consecutive days of surfing, marking her third straight year of daily wave catching.
Roh’s story began while in training for a contest. After the event, she realized she had been surfing each day of the summer. When Roh was 10 days short of 100, she heard about a friend who did 300 days and vowed to keep going.
“I did that and then I went to a year,” Roh said. “Then the goal kept getting bigger.”
Both girls are top performing competitors, well on their way to professional surfing careers.
As an up-and-coming pro shortboarder, one of the select group of girls invited to compete in the Surfing America Prime series and member of the USA Surf Team, Blanco travels around the world to compete in a mix of junior and professional competitions. She is also the reigning Surfing America Prime Girls U18 champion.
A member of the San Juan Hills High School women’s longboard team, Roh became a Scholastic Surf Series Section B state champion.
Roh and Blanco said they have had to make sacrifices and work hard to stay focused on their goals. One thing both surfers said they never expected is the amount of support they’ve received.
Although Blanco has received a lot of support for her vegan lifestyle, she has also been the target of some negativity—naysayers insisting she must not be getting enough protein and her diet could be a detriment to her performance—despite her many victories.
Whether standing up against animal cruelty or surfing every day, these young ladies feel they have become role models.
“Recently I got a message on Tumblr from a girl saying that she and her friend went vegan because of me, “Blanco said. “It really makes me happy that I’m inspiring others.”
Roh also enjoys her new-found role model status.
“It’s pretty cool that I’ve inspired people to surf more,” said Roh. “It’s cool that I get to do what I love to do every day.”
Both say they don’t intend to give up.
Roh will continue to make wave riding a part of her daily schedule, despite reaching her three-year goal, and Blanco is preparing for the upcoming Surfing America USA Championships, June 12 through 20 at San Onofre State Park.