BY FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ
Coral and Moana, of Todos Santos, train hard towards achieving their goal of surfing and competing at the highest levels. Moana, 17, won a bronze medal at the 2022 FeMex Women’s Open Longboard National Championships and remains the Baja California Sur State champ in both women’s longboard and shortboard. Coral, 15, earned a silver medal at the same championships. Their father, Pablo Bonilla, is a 7-time Mexican National Longboard Champion and was also selected to represent Mexico Longboarding in the PanAmerican Surf Association Games in Panama last April.
Coral reached the podium twice during the Surf City El Salvador ALAS Pro Tour 2023, held on Las Flores beach, where 197 athletes from 18 countries participated in the Women’s Youth Sub 18 Surfing category. Next up for the sisters and their father will be the world competition championships in 2024.
The sisters travel back and forth between Eagle Lake in Haliburton County and Southern Baja throughout the year with their mother Holly Bishop and father Pablo Bonilla. “When we are in Mexico, we live at the beach, so it was normal that I was in the ocean every day. My whole family surfs together,” said Moana.
When in Mexico, the family lives in a motorhome next to Cerritos Beach near Todos Santos, where Pablo runs his Todos Santos Surf Shop, and teaches surf lessons.
When they’re in Haliburton, Canada, he teaches swim lessons in West Guilford and Holly operates Gypsea’s Lifestyle Boutique. “Ever since I was a toddler, I would be surfing with my dad on his board and playing on my own,” added Moana.
“As I’ve gotten older, I just started getting into it more and more and made more surfing friends. It makes it more fun to be in the water with friends. When I’m in Mexico, I usually wake up and go surf, then do some schoolwork and then go surf again. Some evenings we have Jujitsu or dance or pottery classes then we usually have dinner and a bonfire. The weekends are the only days my friends don’t go to school, so we are usually in the ocean all day.”
Moana has grown accustomed to traveling thanks to her surfing success. “It was super important to me that I got chosen to surf and compete because if I do well, I could secure my spot for the World Games of Surfing, and the PanAm Surfing Championships. This could take me to the Olympics and on the path of becoming a professional surfer. Every time I go surfing, it’s different but I mostly feel relaxed and very happy. I can’t really explain what it’s like but it’s like nothing else.”
Coral, winner of the gold medal in the Women’s Surfing Sub 15/16 years category, at the 2022 CONADE Mexico National Championship Games, has established herself as one of the best young female surfers in the world. She is looking forward to participating in the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ”I feel proud to see how much the kids have grown as high-performance athletes, to see their parents supporting them,” said family friend, Armando Perez.
It may only be a matter of time before either Bonilla sister duplicates the gold medal performance of Jhony Corzo, the first Mexican to be World Surfing Champion.