ELLIE Lambkin says she was always sports-minded, but surfing puts everything else in the shade.
Every day, she's up in the dark for a short bicycle ride to Merewether Beach, in her wetsuit, ready to surf regardless of the conditions.
At 17 and in year 12 at Francis Xavier's College at Hamilton, Lambkin made the jump from club and regional evens to World Qualifying Series (WQS) contests in 2019.
THE STORY SO FAR:
- Ten point rides: Newcastle's best surfers across the decades
- 'Girls can't surf?' Yes they can. And how
- Boardriding brilliance on the bus from Wallsend: Kelly Bashford
- Longer hair, shorter boards: Peter Cornish
- 'Radical Roger' Clements, with rare 1968 video footage
- Opposite ends: Smooth Belinda Baggs and the frantic Sabre Norris
- The impossibly stylish Craig Anderson
- Paige Haggerston: Aussie champ at 17
- The tropical life of Peter McCabe
- Merewether pioneers Pam Lane, Nancy Newburn and Judy Clements
In doing so, she joined her Merewether mate Amelie Bourke, 18, who did her first three WQS events in 2018, and who has been sponsored since then by one of the world's biggest surf brands, Rip Curl.
Lambkin, in turn, is sponsored by Newcastle West board shop Slimes.
COVID has thrown virtually every professional sport into chaos, and with QS events suspended for the time being, both young women have had to put their professional ambitions on hold.
As things stand, Bourke is #34 on the Australia/Oceania QS rankings, and Lambkin #61.
"We surf with each other just about every day," Bourke says of their friendship, which is edged with a competitive rivalry.
Both of them want to give the professional tour "a real crack" - as Lambkin puts it.
For the time being, they are restricted to surfing in smaller events, while they keep training and practising and working to perfect the big manoeuvres that they need to have in their kit bag if they are going succeed as professional athletes.
World Surf League profiles:
Lambkin lists one of her career highlights as making the national finals of her age division in the Grom Search - a long-running series with a reputation for unearthing new talent amongst the "grommets" - young surfers.
Bourke says the Rip Curl sponsorship has been more about "promoting the brand and being respectful" than pressure for outright contest results, and she is extremely grateful for the support.
Lambkin has a job as a surf coach with Philippa Anderson's recently established surf school.
Both say that the women above them - especially Anderson and Sarah Baum - have provided great inspiration.
They've grown up surfing against the boys in club contests, and nothing much fazes them in the water.
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