- WSL / Laurent Masurel

Phillip Island, located on Australia's south east corner in the state of Victoria, is the slow-moving place where Nikki Van Dijk grew up. Exposed to the south swells that track up from Antarctica's freezing waters, the Island juts out to on such an angle that means no matter the conditions there are always waves somewhere.

Phillip Island is a lesser known surf destination to the historical Victorian West Coast -- the seemingly infinite stretch of points and reefs that include Bells Beach and Winkipop, yet it has produced the only Victorian currently on the Championship Tour. Nikki described surfing at home:

"It's such a small place, it's an island so we have endless surf, it really just depends on what direction the swell is and the wind is. There's literally never no waves," She said.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 6: Nikki Van Dijk and Piper Harrison of Australia in Heat 3 of Round 1 of the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast on October 6, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Cait Miers/World Surf League via Getty Images) Nikki Van Dijk is ready to make the most of a record four Championship Tour events in Australia - WSL / Cait Miers

"Every time I come home I will spend hours at the local carpark at the beach chatting because there's just so many people that support me in Victoria and I really see that."

Victoria's surf culture has had a big impact on Nikki. One of her earliest memories is of being on the beach at Bells.

"My mum and dad took me and my sister, I think my little brother was just born so I was four at the time, to Bells. We sat on the beach and I watched Layne Beachley's heat. I just remember this vision of us being on the beach and watching Layne and then I went up to her and got her signature. It was a really significant memory for me because I had just been around that energy from such a young age and then it was literally 10 years later that I was surfing a heat with Layne at Bells," she said.

"There's so many legends in Victoria, especially on the West Coast. There's so much culture within Victoria and having seen what that's all about from such a young age, I didn't really know anything else."

With one CT victory already under her belt, the Cascais Women's Pro clinched in 2017, the extended time at home has given Nikki the opportunity to explore different types of training and to spend time in the recently-opened wave pool in Melbourne.

"I have a scholarship at the Institute of Sport in Victoria so I've been in there a lot. I train with all different types of athletes… It's so inspiring being around different kinds of athletes and getting to train with them.

"[The wave pool] has been amazing -- the guys from the institute of sport will come and suss the way my body works and then we'll go into the gym and work on that. I think it's undeniable how good it is for my surfing and my body," Nikki says.

Being on Australian soil is something comforting for Nikki, and with a record four Australian Championship Tour events coming up, this could be a strength when the Tour resumes soon. This feeds into her excitement for the brand new event at Rottnest Island in Western Australia, and it seems like Nikki is well poised to approach what is a relatively unknown location.

"The waves in WA and Victoria are very similar. They have a lot of power and it's super raw and it feels alive. I've been able to just accept that and love that and not be scared off by that, she said.

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