16-year-old Coolum surfer Isabella Nichols got the best Christmas present she could hope for when she was crowned the new Soundwave Australian Under 18 Junior girls Champion at Werri Beach (NSW) on Saturday. Nichols went into the seven-day comp as the current U18 girls state champion and dominated early in both the individual and teams events. She easily won through the first round, scored runner up in the second round and went on to win her semi-final before tackling the solid 6 feet (2 meter plus) surf for the final showdown. After languishing in fourth position for most of the final, Nichols only jumped from fourth to first in the last minute when she secured a high score on her final ride.
“I wasn’t nervous but more relieved to finally get a decent wave at the end,” she said.
“I moved closer to the shore just to find a decent wave and it was just lucky that one arrived before the final finished and I’m so happy to have won.”
Joining Isabella on the winner’s podium was new Soundwave U18 Australian Boys Champion, 15-year-old Fraser Dovell from NSW. Dovell, who was competing at an Australian Junior Titles event for the first time, surfed a final almost identical to Nichols, coming from behind to post an outstanding 9.5 ride on his final wave and steal victory. Nichols was a standout competitor all week and her win was later complemented with the ‘Isabel Letham Award’ for the most promising emerging female surfer at the event.
U16 Boys Australian champion Joe Van Dijk (Vic) was awarded the corresponding Duke Kahanomuku award as the most promising emerging boy surfer.
The accolade topped off a huge week for the Coolum-based Nichols who, together with Queensland’s Jade Wheatley, also scored a win in the All Star Schools U19 Girls division on Friday. Day one of the event saw fellow Coolum surfer Jaleesa Vincent score the highest wave of the U16 Girls division, with consequent heats seeing her advance to the semi-finals before being knocked out while Wurtulla’s Laura Poncini advanced. The Coolum girls also paired up for the Mark Richards Shield event, but bowed out in the final stages.
They were among several other surfers flying the Sunshine Coast flag high throughout the prestigious national event, with their combined point scores helping to secure an overall first place ranking for team Queensland. Laura Poncini placed third in the U16 Girls final, also pairing with Lucy Callister to take out the U16 Girls All Star Schools division. Sunrise Beach’s Quinn Bruce and Connor Lyons of Castaway’s Beach placed third and fourth respectively in the Boys U16 national final, while Wurtulla’s Kai Hing ended his title campaign in a semi final clash with 16-year-old Jacob Wilcox (WA), who made headlines after beating Kelly Slater in Portugal last month.
Coast duo Nick Callister and Jack Reginato added to the award haul with a first in the All Star Schools U19 boys division, while Ellie Brooks made it to the U18 girls semi-final alongside national winner, Nichols. After finishing third at the same event last year, the national title win is the icing on the cake for Nichols, whose accolades over the past 12 months have included:
- Schultz Toomey O’Brien Student Athlete of the Year
- U18 State Champion
- Schools Junior Girls State Champion
- Placed seventh at the U16 division World Titles
Isabella was inundated with proud well-wishers on her return home to Coolum on Sunday, including Coolum Boardriders President, Daryl Maudsley. “All of the club are really proud of all our girls down at the Aussie Titles; Jaleesa Vincent and Amber Dodds both with Semi Final finishes in their divisions and of course Isabella as our Aussie champ. Just awesome,” he said. “Isabella has trained hard and prepared well and it is great to see her potential coming out for all to see.”
Isabella Nichols on her way to winning the U18 Girls National title. Photo: Surfing Australia / Nikon – www.mynikonlife.com.au
Copyright laws apply to all images. Copyright retained by The Anderson Outlook. It is an offence to copy, print or publish any images without the express written consent of the owner.