- WSL / Cait Miers
- WSL / Cait Miers

It's that time again, when the competitive surfing world descends on the shores of Australia for the first leg of the Championship Tour. And joining all the familiar faces this year will be 2020 rookie Isabella Nichols.

With a powerful hook like Carissa Moore and a graceful flow like Stephanie Gilmore, the 22-year-old is about to test her chops against the world's best at the upcoming Corona Gold Coast Open.

"My plans for the Australian leg [are] to start off doing three of the QS' before the CT starts," Nichols recently told the WSL. "I feel like these three contests I'm going to use to kind of get my mind back into the game, refresh on everything and get my mind sharp and my tactics sharp and hopefully get a good run into the CT season."

One of those three events she's referring to is the upcoming Sydey Surf Pro, part of the newly minted Challenger Series.

Nichols has also been putting in the hard yards in the off-season through training, surfing new boards and even traveling to West Oz to get out of her comfort zone. "I went to Margaret River to practice at the break there because I had never been," Nichols said, adding that she's, "trying to gather intel for the coming season."

She also recently re-upped with longtime sponsor Billabong, giving her added piece of mind as she embarks of her 2020 campaign.

But back to the Gold Coast. Nichols is seeded in the opening heat of the event, where she is currently set to face off in a trial by fire against World Champs Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore. She's got the goods on Goldie though, having surfed the event in 2019 as a wild card where she finished 9th, taking down Gilmore in their Round One heat in the process.

At a competition known for predicting World Titles runs, sending either Wright or Gilmore packing to the Elimination Round would be a big statement for the rookie from Coolum Beach. Nichols is looking ready for action, but even she knows, it's all theoretical till you make your debut on the big stage.

"I won't know until the first heat, but I feel like I'm prepared and ready for the year."

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