nikkiNicole Doyle left Australia at age 23. She headed off to work in the ski resorts of Canada and U.S.A. Liking the adventure and lifestyle, she stayed on and got a summer job as a river guide in California. She has become a well-respected whitewater rafting expert. She also gets to lead snorkelling and sea-kayaking trips in exotic places. During the winter, she lives and surfs in Santa Cruz, California. Nikki now calls the U.S home. She comes back here for a visit every couple of years. I asked her a few questions about her surfing.

Q. How did you get started?
. As a kid, I grew up in Bundoora (Melbourne northern suburb) and we spent summer holidays in Ocean Grove. I did a bit of boogie boarding then, but was always envious of the boy next door, back in Melbourne, who was a “surfie”. When I was 16, I saved up and bought a wetsuit….then a legrope…and then finally at 18, I got myself a brand new, hot pink (with black and white checkerboard pattern on the deck) 6’2” Trigger Brothers board. And I didn’t even know how to surf!!

Q. What do you like best about surfing?
A. It’s great to be in a natural environment with ‘a big floaty thing’ that you can ride. You forget about all the worries of the world when you’re out there – it’s a kind of retreat. Being out in the water with friends is even better. It’s so much fun.
In saying all that though, surfing can also be very frustrating, because conditions are always changing. One day you’re a legend, the next day you’re bad.

Q. Do you have any magic surfing memories?
A.  When I was in Fiji, we saw waves breaking on an offshore reef. We were crazy enough to hire a leaky little boat to take us out there. It seemed like about 2kms from land where we jumped off into the deep blue and paddled across to the break. It was scary but a great feeling to actually catch those big lefthanders with only 2 of us in the water.
I also have great memories of catching my first real green wave – at Darby Beach, Wilsons Prom.

Q. What advice would you give to others who are just beginning their surfing careers?
It’s best to have a lesson and learn the right techniques early. That way you won’t end up with bad habits which are hard to break.

Q. Do you have any goals for your future surfing?
A. I’d really like to be able to cross-step gracefully up and down on a longboard. At the moment I’m doing a “two-step, faceplant”. The waves in Santa Cruz are perfect for walking the board, but I just can’t master it yet.


Nikki shredding during a recent Thursday morning session at Ocean Grove. Photo by Rachel Ratcliffe.

Thanks Nico – see ya in a couple of years mate (or maybe I’ll have to head over to California and sample some of those classic Santa Cruz peelers)

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