Mom Jocks

Tia Blanco Loves Surfing Even More Now That She’s A Mom

“I just always go back to the things that made me fall in love with the sport in the first place.”

by Kaitlin Kimont
Winning Look

Tia Blanco has always lived close to the ocean and her relationship with surfing goes way back. Growing up, her father was in the U.S. Coast Guard, and they lived in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Southern California. At just 3 years old, she got on her first surfboard and was competing as a preteen at age 12. “It was just my whole entire life,” she says. “I dedicated my whole life to surfing.”

That dedication ultimately led to championship titles and accolades, including a gold medal win at the International Surfing Association (ISA) Open Women's World Surfing Championship in 2015 and another one in 2016.

Blanco, 26, took another life-changing title in July 2023 when she welcomed her first child, a daughter named Honey Raye, with her fiancé Brody Jenner, who she says “turns into mush around her.” Since then, her relationship with surfing looks different. “Up until I had my daughter, I was competing [and] traveling the world. That was my life,” she says. “Now that I’m not competing full time, there’s definitely less pressure attached with surfing, which is amazing.”

Before stepping back from the competitive nature of surfing, she admits there were tough times that pushed her to the edge. “As an athlete and as a surfer, I definitely have gone through a lot of ups and downs. Moments where I wanted to quit and moments where I’ve fallen out of love with surfing,” Blanco says. “I just always go back to the things that made me fall in love with the sport in the first place.”

Courtesy of Tia Blanco

Now, getting some time on her board is just for her: “Surfing is purely a place where I can have fun and get some ‘me time,’” she says, adding, “The reason why I fell in love with surfing in the first place is because it makes me happy. So now as a mom … surfing makes me happy.”

That and Honey, of course, plus the family’s three dogs — Shuey the Puggle and two Rottweilers, Tank and Radar — who were present for Honey's birth. “They watched her come into this world. I had a home birth, so they were all in the room when it happened,” Blanco shares. “I feel like they’re super aware that Honey is our little baby girl and she’s a part of the family now. From day one, they’ve been very, very sweet with her and protective.”

Surfing is purely a place where I can have fun and get some ‘me time.’

There’s no doubt Blanco is an animal lover. “Animal conservation has always been very, very important to me,” Blanco says. She recently partnered up with Fahlo, a brand of beaded bracelets that allow you to track animals in real-time around the world like sloths in Costa Rica, polar bears in the arctic, or elephants in Kenya. Every bracelet is attached to a different animal, complete with a backstory, which you can follow in the wild through the Fahlo app. A portion of all proceeds goes to international wildlife and conservation nonprofits.

Connecting with nature has been a throughline in Blanco's life. “The ocean is such a beautiful place. It’s always been my happy place, like my church,” she says, adding that Honey has “dipped her toes in a few times,” but she wants everything to be just right when she introduces her daughter to her passion and they catch Honey’s first wave together.

“I think it’s so important to have her first time in the ocean surfing be a very positive experience, so I want to wait until it’s the perfect setting.” When everything falls into place, Honey will be wearing a little life vest, of course — at first Blanco thought Brody Jenner would be the stricter parent, she says, but now it’s clear “that little girl has him wrapped around her finger.” Either way, Blanco imagines that Honey’s first surfing expedition will happen “maybe somewhere in the islands” on a sunny day with “happy, good energy.”