Hawaii Waterman
Hall of Fame

Laura Blears

Laura Blears

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Laura Blears is a pioneer in women’s surfing. Laura grew up on Waikīkī Beach, surfing, sailing, and paddling with the beach boys. She is the daughter of Lord “Tally Ho” Blears, a famous wrestler, war hero, amateur surfer, and announcer of many surfing events of the era. Laura entered her first surf contest at the age of twelve. In her early teens, she took 2nd Place two years in a row in the Makaha International Tandem Surfing Contest with tandem partners Nappy Napolean and a legendary beach boy named Edward “Blackout” Whaley. In high school, she swam for Punahou helping the team to win four state championships.

At the age of 22, Laura won the 1972 Mākaha International Surfing Championships Women’s Title. In 1973, Fred Hemmings invited her to be the first woman to compete in a men’s event, the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships. Laura remembers, “It was billed as ‘30 men and Laura.’ That was the advertising." Joined by five other female pros in the ’74 Smirnoff, Blears was the top point-getter; the following year she was runner-up to Margo Oberg. She was also the first woman to win a check at a pro-surfing event, the Winner Take All at Sunset. Throughout the seventies, she competed internationally (Puerto Rico, Australia, etc.) and was named the top female surfer in Hawai’i and the world. Her success in the surfing world brought her international fame, with appearances in various magazines, advertisements, and television shows including ABC’s Superstars and Challenge of the Sexes. In 1976, Laura made the cover of People magazine and was captioned as the “World Tigress of the Waves.”

After having her son, Dylan, Laura focused more on paddling. She was an avid paddler as a kid, paddling for Hui Nalu and winning a state title. As an adult, she steered, captained, and coached for the Lahaina Canoe Club and Napili Canoe Club on Maui for over a decade. She won state championships and steered the Moloka’i Channel more than a dozen times with her sister Carol, also an accomplished paddler.

These days, while she still regularly surfs and paddles, Laura swims every day and teaches aerobics to kapuna at the Lahaina Pool. She is an active member and advocate for the Lahaina Pool and swimming community. She won first place in her age division in the Duke Kahanamoku Ocean Mile Swim from 2018 through 2023. She also surfed as an official “Legend” at this year’s festival.

She embodies the aloha and humility of Duke every day. She has been an employee of Kimo's Restaurant on Maui for over forty years and regularly recites Duke's Creed from memory at employee meetings. She’s been known to teach fellow employees how to swim, paddle, and surf. For some years she was appointed as “Miss Aloha” assigned to rove around tables and chat with diners. She was also awarded the inaugural Kimo’s Restaurant Pioneer of Surfing Award in 2022.

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