From the balcony of their Phillip Island home, the Van Dijk family can just catch a glipse of the swell at nearby Smith’s Beach.
It was there that Robbie Van Dijk first plonked his then four-year-old daughter on a board, but he insists it was just for fun.
“It was just a soul thing – just a way of life and I didn’t think about what was going to happen in the future. Because I surfed I wanted them to have the feeling I had on a wave,” he told SBS.
But with three surf crazy kids, a beach-side upbringing and intense sibling rivalry led to the waves becoming an obsession and for Nikki, a career.
In 2012 Nikki won the world junior title and late last year she qualified for the 2014 women’s tour placing her in the top 25 female surfers in the world.
“It’s kind of crazy to think at 12 I’m already thinking about this is going to be my life and I can’t think of anything better. I’m really lucky to have such supportive parents – it does get tough competing and travelling. Not only am I going to be surfing against my heroes but I’m definitely ready to show what I’ve got – just surf my best and improve my surfing and just learn, “ Nikki says.
A minor foot injury is temporarily keeping Nikki out of the water, but she insists she’ll be well rested and primed for the first tour event next month. She says keeping up with the ever evolving sport is a challenge she relishes, and has shelved the sibling rivalry, gaining some help from her younger brother, also a budding professional.
Nikki says, “If there was like a finish to it then I think surfing wouldn’t be what it is always changing and evolving. I guess the biggest thing for girls right now is doing airs and it’s so hard – my little brother’s trying to teach me and it’s just really hard work.”
But hard work doesn’t phase the 19-year-old, and her dream of making the tour is just the beginning.
“I really want to learn a lot – that’s my main focus to learn but ultimately want to be in the top five and go on to go for a world title.”
Robbie Van Dijk shaped his daughter’s first board and her passion for the sport, but never imagined it would become a career. He says he is proud of his daughter, and if luck smiles on her, those dreams could come true, telling SBS, “I’ll probably cry, probably cry and go there you go then.”