SURFING is a diverse pursuit, and not all the best surfers are competition focused.
Then there's the rise of the surfing "influencers", and of people whose fame perhaps transcends their surfing.
Next on our list of top Newcastle surfers we feature two different but high-profile women, Belinda Baggs and Sabre Norris.
THE STORY SO FAR:
Belinda Baggs has become nationally prominent recently for her environmental efforts, especially against offshore oil drilling, which is something her employer, clothing brand Patagonia, encourages her to pursue.
Sabre Norris, 16, is the eldest of the digitally famous "Norris Nuts" - the children of Newcastle Olympic swimmer Justin Norris and wife Brooke, whose online fan base includes 5.1 million subscribers on YouTube. That's pretty big.
Norris ran into a serious health problem in 2018 when she was diagnosed with a condition known as Chiari malformation. She is more famous as a skateboarder than a surfer, but she is also credited as the youngest ever entrant to a World Surf League event, surfing in the Sydney International Pro at the age of 11.
Belinda Baggs, based nowadays in Victoria, learned to surf at Dixon Park with her well-known longboarding father Phil Baggs. She, too, is known for her stylish longboarding, but she says it took her a while to choose "log-riding" over higher-performance shortboards.
Looking back, she says she remembers her friends at Cardiff High "giving some strange sideways glances at 'the girl' who chooses to surf with her dad over spending time at Charlestown square shopping or going to parties".
She said her father's reputation gained her some degree of acceptance in the water as often "the only girl in the lineup".
"I always looked up to the surfing of Jye Byrnes and Jarrod Morrell who rode both styles of board equally well, and always chose the best board for the conditions," she says.
"It may have been their smooth styles but it always looked like they were having more fun."
Baggs lists her competitive highlights as a win in the Australian women's longboarding titles, aged 20, in 2000, and a third in the world titles at Costa Rica the same year.
We asked Belinda to pen a few words about her surfing life.
Here it is:
"I spent my childhood on the sandy shores of Dixon Park Beach. I would watch my dad (Phil Baggs) ride wave after wave. There's only so long you can sit back and observe others surfing until you need to jump in yourself. As a young teenager the shore break of Dixon Park was a milestone to conquer.
"Racing through the treacherous pounding of water on sand signified that I'd become a surfer.
"From that moment on in the mid 90's riding waves was the only think I could think of. A girl obsessed with peeling waves and spending as much time at the beach as humanly possible. Weekends and early mornings Dad and I would be surfing together. He taught me everything I know about the ocean, appreciation and the fundamentals of riding a wave. I remember my friends at Cardiff High giving some strange sideways glances at 'the girl' who chooses to surf with her dad over spending time at Charlestown square shopping or going to parties.
"I loved surfing all those years with Dad.
"More often then not I was the only girl in the line-up. If I wasn't out there with my dad this could of been an uncomfortable situation. Feeling lost without a guide or encouraging smiling face welcoming you into the break. I always felt like once crossing the pounding shore-break you left all inequalities behind on the sand. The ocean knows no gender, race, religion, social status or monetary value. It's the one who is most in tune with the movements of the sea and aware of the patterns that come out on top.
"I feel like this was only true as I never really had to prove myself to the pack- I was granted a small reverence due to Dad's reputation.
"I was always switching between riding a longboard and a conventional short board. Competing in the surfest scholastic competitions, boardriders rounds and steel city Malibu classic. Eventually riding a longboard lead to fun weekends away and sharing sessions with inspiring surfers. I eventually gave up shortboard competition due to the serious nature of most events.
"I always looked up to the surfing of Jye Byrnes and Jarrod Morrell who rode both styles of board equally well, and always chose the best board for the conditions. It may of been their smooth styles but it always looked like they were having more fun.
"This has always been my goal as a surfer - to ride the right board for the conditions - enabling me to surf everyday. Ride all the differing conditions that our Newcastle beaches experience throughout the year well.
"In 2000 I went on to compete in longboard competitions across Australia and internationally. I was lured by the experience of travelling, seeing new places and experiencing them with good friends.
"At 20 I was the Australian Professional Longboard Circuit Champion and
"Placed third in the Women's World Longboard Championship.
"Not long after this I began loosing my enthusiasm for competing. I wanted to just surf and experience the magnificence of riding the oceans energy without having to try and score points. Surfing felt more like an expression, not something that should be judged.
"Luckily due to surf industry connections I had made through competition I was able to continue travelling and working on photo and story projects for magazines and film including the first female to feature on the cover of the Surfers Journal magazine.
"Logging (riding a heavy single fin longboard) was just becoming popular, it was this style of surfing that just felt right.
"When on my log I felt feminine, I felt strong and empowered. I felt like I finally belonged.
"I still ride all kinds of boards continue toward my goal of riding the everyday swells. Now, on special occasions I get to ride the waves of Dixon Park with 3 generations- my dad, myself and my son.
"This surfing life has made me realise that we must respect the ocean and each other. I now spend the majority of my time protecting and preserving our mother ocean.
"Right now we must all ban together to stop the proposed gas drilling off Newcastle waters."
SUBSCRIBE FOR OUR NEWCASTLE CUP COVERAGE
It's less than a cup of coffee a week. $19.50 a month ($4.50 a week) $187.20 annually upfront ($3.60 a week). Hit the red SUBSCRIBE button on your screen.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: