Nikki Van Dijk is one of the biggest hidden threats on the women’s Championship Tour. She finished the 2017 season ranked No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard after claiming her first CT victory at the Cascais Women’s Pro in Portugal. The victory was the latest sign of her steady evolution. Van Dijk’s surfing is grounded in a mastery of the fundamentals, with healthy doses of energy and style. She honed her approach on Phillip Island, a remote little enclave that’s a day trip away from Melbourne, Australia. She’s the only surfer on the men’s or women’s side of the Tour from her wave-rich state of Victoria. She’s the middle child of three surf-stoked kids indoctrinated by their surf-crazed dad. Nikki was 13 years old when she started competing, and regularly beat up on the boys. In 2012, during her final year of school she raced off to Bali just before final exams to clinch the World Junior Championship. She joined the Tour in 2014, and paid some serious rookie dues in Fiji, taking a heavy wipeout that led to 16 stitches near her eye. But she’s shown solid growth every year since. In 2015 she had an amazing string of six quarterfinal appearances in a row. In 2016 she broke through that barrier with a third place at Trestles, and last year she notched her big win. She spends most of her “home” time in Melbourne now, soaking up the city life with friends. But if she detects any whiff of a swell heading for Phillip Island, you can bet she’ll be racing out there to join her little brother Joe in the lineup.