Few surfers in Australia have caught fire as quickly as Molly Picklum in the past few years.
At just 18 years old, the Central Coast shredder has been on a tear competing on the QS this season, and her free surfing performances also have everyone talking.
Her section in Rip Curls ‘Postcards From Morgs' film last year signaled that her technique above and below the lip is tac sharp, and during a phenomenal two days at Kirra this week she showed that she's just as comfortable in juicier conditions.
Picklum believes her upbringing on the Central Coast, a region renowned for its epic waves and strong Boardriders clubs is a testament to her success.
"We have every variety of wave from slabs, good beachies, terrible beachies, little point breaks ... I think that's a component of why we produce so many good surfers. And I guess also we have such strong Boardriders clubs on the Central Coast. Between North Shelly Boardriders and Avoca, it's incredible."
Like many Australian groms, Boardriders is where Picklum got her first taste for competition at 14-years-old and she hasn't looked back since.
"My first competition was when some of the local people said, ‘Come join Boardriders, come join Boardriders.' I kind of beat the few girls then and they said, ‘Come to this comp.' I went to this comp for fun and then I won it and it was the Manly Australian Open Under 16s," says Picklum in her typical laid-back manner.
The Central Coaster has already claimed the U/16 and U/18 Australian Championship titles, along with the Australian Pro Junior in 2019, and was named Female Rising Star at the Australian Surfing Awards in 2020.
The Central Coast has been a breeding ground for Championship Tour-level surfing talent for the past several years. From Adrian Buchan, Matt Wilkinson, Wade Carmichael, Macy Callaghan, not to mention surfing's most high profile and successful professional coach, Glenn ‘Micro' Hall, who also had his time in the sun on the CT.
Micro has been Picklum's coach for the past three years and the pair have had a stellar 2021 season. After winning the Great Lakes Pro to kick off the Qualifying Season, Picklum picked up a 9th place finish at the Port Stephens Pro presented by Mad Mex and had back-to-back wins at the Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro and recent Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro.
"It was super special for me this year because I was aware of what I was doing and it felt like I was in control of my winning whereas before it felt like it was a bit of a luck thing. But now I know how to perform and do competitions."
Picklum is ranked No. 1 on the Australian Qualifying Series and is an early qualifier on the Challenger Series, meaning she will battle it out for one of the six coveted spots to qualify for the CT later this year.
The prospect of being counted with the world's best excites the 18-year-old who feels that her generation is in the driver's seat to propel the sport forward for years to come.
"It's so exciting seeing women's surfing just starting to do this and it's moving rapidly and I think that's my biggest determination and why I want to do this is because I've come in at that generation where I could have that impact and bring new things to the sport from airs to bigger waves -- those are the two main components and then that's pretty much where my main drive comes from."
"To try and bring that and bring it strong because the next generation after me is bringing it even stronger. Women's surfing is going to be really entertaining."
And despite her young age, she accepts that she's already considered a role model for the micro-groms hot on her heels like Sierra Kerr who she surfs with regularly along with her fans.
"I'm definitely aware of it that I could be a role model for a lot of people and I get messages from Mums and Dads around Australia about how much their kids look up to me and what not so I definitely feel a bit of responsibility but I also think it gives me more confidence because I know what I do comes natural and it's me. So, if that has a positive impact on someone then I'm just grateful for that."