LOOK up Rebecca Woods in the World Surf League's lists of women athletes, and you'll see her home beach listed as Copacabana, on the Central Coast.
But home is where the heart is, and "Bec" - as everyone knows her - called Newcastle home for a while during her nine "nomadic" years on the top-flight Championship Tour (CT) between 2005 and 2013, and she's been here for much of that time since.
She turns 37 this year, surfs virtually daily and competes with the East End Boardriders club based at Newcastle Beach.
She lives at Adamstown and works in Hamilton as a degree-qualified osteopath, having gone to university after finishing the tour.
THE HUNTER'S BEST SURFERS, COUNTING DOWN:
- 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
- Young guns Amelie Bourke and Ellie Lambkin
- Revered at Redhead: 'the other' Col Smith
- Bells Beach winner at 16: Nicky Wood
- Elle Clayton-Brown riding the WQS table
- Hell-raiser, Bells winner, Matt Hoy
- Sarah Baum finds a new home in Newcastle
- Hometown Newcastle Cup favourite Ryan Callinan
- 'Out', loud and proud: Michelle Donoghue from Blacksmiths
- Luke Egan, new dad, sought after CT coach and 18-year tour veteran
- Newcastle's woman 'wild card' at the Newcastle Cup, Philippa Anderson
Her competition record speaks for itself, starting with a clutch of junior accolades.
She was national under-16 champion in 1999.
She has three junior Surfest wins (2000, 2001, 2002) and took out the main women's title in 2003, 2004 (when Kelly Slater won the men's) and 2006.
She won the 2002 and 2004 national Pro Junior championship. On the CT, she had five straight years in the Top 10 during her nine seasons on the tour. She finished fourth on the Qualifying Series (QS) tour in 2004 to win her place on the CT, and won the QS the following year, 2005, despite being injured along the way.
Her best CT results over the years were thirds and fifths, and she surfed consistently deep into her events.
And we're not talking beachbreaks here.
Woods is a diminutive 5'4" (162cm) and weighed just 55kg when she was on tour surfing Cloudbreak in Fiji and the often-terrifying Teahupoo in Tahiti.
Woods is a natural footer, meaning she was tackling both those waves on her backhand.
She said "childish bravado" meant she "did alright" when she first paddled Cloudbreak.
Early on, especially, Bec says money was very tight.
She thanks Old Bar's Martin Dunn (whose son Ben made the CT) for his coaching clinics.
But mostly, the girls banded together to look after each other.
And they needed to.
We've repeatedly referenced the Girls Can't Surf documentary in this series and Woods was one of two dozen surfing women who gathered at Melbourne's URBSurf a few weeks back for Pauline Menczer's COVID-delayed 50th birthday bash.
"Pauline and Jodi Couper have both been assaulted in the water," Woods says.
"The culture is changing, but I'm not sure the men even realise why they do the things they do in the first place."
Woods - like Mark Richards - is also madly enthusiastic over wave pools, although she worries, environmentally, about the amount of energy they consume to operate.
But most of all she is proud of the rise of women's surfing, and knows her part in its progress.
"It's great to see people like Philippa Anderson and Sarah Baum getting the recognition they deserve. Everyone wants to embrace us as women surfers now, and that's great, but it was hard back then."
Woods says social media has allowed athletes to own their brands and build substantial individual followings.
Now it's the sponsors that need them, she says, and not the other way around.
She says it was a magical decade, overall, but she's happy now to "stay at home".
"My body's tired. I chased it until I was 30. A decade gone. In a blink!"
There was a time she did miss it, though. In 2012 she told an online swimwear magazine: "Surfing has been my life since I was 12.
"The dream of surfing the world in epic waves and pushing myself to a level that I was satisfied with engulfed me, surfing with the best and trying my hardest.
"Falling down faces in Teahupoo and dropping ledges at Cloudbreak at 8-10 foot as a 20 year old challenged me.
"My heart in my mouth making a drop and doing things I wasn't sure I could do.
I lived for that . . . I miss that. "
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