So Alana, you just unveiled the Alana Blanchard Foundation! Can you tell us what it’s all about?
Yeah! I did. It’s pretty new… it’s been a thing that I’ve wanted to do for a while now, it was just a matter of finding the right partner to help us out with that first initial announcement. And that has ended up being the Los Cabos Open of Surf contest.
The basis though was that I wanted to create something that would help girls get to contests, whether that’s with financial help or help in another way. That’s the bottom line – but I definitely want to expand beyond that.
I think it’s a really good thing for girls to be in a sport and have goals for themselves. It’s an amazing outlet when you’re growing up, and sometimes girls don’t have the confidence to pick up a board and get out there.
On top of that, contest surfing, and really just surfing in general, is so expensive. So a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to get into the sport because it’s hard financially. Not everyone can get a sponsor, to say the least, so essentially I wanted to start something that would help girls get into the sport.
"Our aim is to help girls out with everything from just having fun to learning to compete well, to even just having the confidence to paddle out." - Alana Blanchard
Is it girls anywhere in the world, any age? What’s the selection process?
So it’s any age, and it’s anywhere in the world. For the Los Cabos Open of Surf, which is our launch, we’re helping four girls get to and compete in the contest. There are girls from Australia, Mexico, Hawaii and the USA in the program right now, and we chose them because they didn’t have main sponsors and have been trying to compete for a while now. We could tell that they really want to be there. That’s how we based the selection for this event.
But in saying that, we’re really open to anything – we’d be so stoked for girls to come to us with their story, and their hopes or goals. We’re really open, and it’s such a new project that any opportunity is a good one.
And what inspired you to start the Foundation?
It was just kind of a thing where I loved getting help when I was a little girl, and I’d like to pass that on. I remember going to the Rochelle Ballard Surf Camps and things like that – they were so awesome, and I think we can bring more girls into the sport through outlets like that.
There doesn’t seem to be many outfits like that around at the moment, aside from Gabriel Medina’s Instituto in Brazil…
Yeah, there aren’t! Right now we’ve just launched, so it’s pretty heavily paired with the Cabo contest – but I definitely want to have it get bigger and hopefully even hold camps each year, with girls coming from around the world. Our aim is to help girls out with everything from just having fun to learning to compete well, to even just having the confidence to paddle out.
Do you look back on your youth and wish there were more opportunities like this around?
I guess, for me, it’s more that when I was a girl coming in to surfing I didn’t really know how to get help. And that can be really hard. Even if you are doing well, there’s that whole aspect of… am I doing this right?
And I want to support girls in that way that they don’t really get, because it’s a very competitive sport and I’ve felt really unconfident throughout a lot of my surfing career. It took me a lot of time to figure it out. And once you start getting recognition, it doesn’t get any easier.
Sometimes we feel like we’re supposed to have it all figured out, or at least be able to act like we do – and that’s not the case. Girls need to have non-judgmental support, and the freedom to ask questions about what they’re not sure about.
I’m really excited to see where this can go, and to meet the girls that reach out. We’re so open – not only to girls who are into competitive surfing, but also girls that just want to get into the sport in general – like, I can’t get a board, or I don’t even know if I can get in the water. Or even if a girl is just after advice. It’s so important.
Do you think one day the Foundation might look to become a sponsor for girls?
100 per cent. That’s what we’re hoping can happen, and we definitely want that to happen. It depends on interest and backing, but that’s the main goal. To be able to actually sponsor girls and help them on a long-term basis.
And that’s unique because it’s not only giving them a sponsor, but also a role model…
Yeah! And you know, I wouldn’t say that when I made tour it was easy – but it gets harder and harder every year. There are so many girls. And I think that when girls see other girls get sponsors, and they’re still sticker-less, there’s a self-doubt that creeps in. I think it would be really cool to even just help them on that side, letting them know that there’s someone supporting them in any way possible.
"This is my way of giving that to girls who don’t have the same opportunities I had." - Alana Blanchard
And, who’s been helping you get the Foundation up and running? Is it just you, or is your family involved?
I mean, it’s not just me running the whole thing, that’s for sure – my dad is helping me a lot, and my manager. We’re just trying to find little sponsors or backers to help us grow the foundation and help girls around the world. Even if that’s just hotels or plane tickets, everything helps.
I am really fortunate – I had sponsors, I had connections. This is my way of giving that to girls who don’t have the same opportunities I had. And again, I’m so lucky to have support in making it happen.
Well good luck with everything you’re doing, Alana. And if there are any girls out there who’d like to get in touch with the Foundation, please do so here.