If you are wondering where to find the next hotbed of talent then look no further than the Sunshine Coast. From Julian Wilson, Reef Heazlewood, Keely Andrew, Dimity Stoyle and Isabella Nicholsthe Sunny Coast has been a breeding ground of elite talent for generations.

Sophie McCulloch is the latest export on the verge of qualifying for the Championship Tour. The Alexandra Headland natural footer is in Portugal at theMEO Vissla Pro Ericeira where she hopes to bounce back from an early-round exit at the US Open. She's already off to a great start with a top finish in the opening round of the event.

"Even before Julian [Wilson] there's just been a lot of people from the Sunny Coast go pro and it kind of makes us believe that we can do it as well regardless of the conditions," she tells the WSL.

"I think the inconsistency of the waves creates a lot of drive and dedication for Sunny Coast surfers and a lot of experience in bad waves. So you put all that together and it's a pretty good profile for a QS surfer to succeed on the CT."

The 21-year-old is staying with fellow Australians Ellie Brooks and India Robinson who all share the same aspiration of qualifying for the CT. McCulloch says surrounding herself with two of the best up-and-coming female surfers on the QS will hopefully bring the best out of her when it comes to competing on the world stage.

Sophie McCulloch on Day 3 of the Port Stephens Pro QS1,000. As a well rounded and sharp individual, Sophie McCulloch watches the waves before Day 3 of the Port Stephens Pro, using her wits to help her win heats on the Challenger Series. - WSL / Tom Bennett

"I think each of us shares the value of wanting to push our surfing performances in the female division," she says. "And with that shared value we're just excited to see anyone take it to the next level we're all equally really competitive -- so we want to be that one to take it to the next level. I think it's a really good combination."

"I think each of us shares the value of wanting to push our surfing performances in the female division," she says. "And with that shared value we're just excited to see anyone take it to the next level we're all equally really competitive -- so we want to be that one to take it to the next level. I think it's a really good combination."

Aside from being one of Australia's best female surfers McCulloch also possesses one of the sharpest minds on the Challenger Series. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Marketing -- combining her love of science and business laying the foundation for a career outside the sport.

"I grew up with an interest in biology at school and enjoyed learning about the human body. So then when I was picking my university degree that was the main criteria. I stumbled across a degree that was in the science industry but then also in the business industry. Five and a half years later I've graduated and I'm really happy I made that decision to dive straight into study."

Sophie McCulloch AUS at the Sydney Womens Pro Pres. by SisstRevolution at Manly Beach, NSW, Australia. Sophie McCulloch of Australia watches the waves with her coach at the Sydney Womens Pro Presented by SisstRevolution at Manly Beach, New South Wales. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

For now, though McCulloch's main focus is booking a spot on the CT. And after spending the past 18 months stuck in Australia due to the country's travel restrictions she's excited to hit the road and do her friends and family proud back home.

"The end goal is to win in the Challenger Series and with that comes qualification for the CT. It's such a long time on the road -- I'm really trying to be in the present and not look at the picture because I've got a very analytical mind and I feel like if I look too far in advance then I'm going to overthink everything."

"I'm really trying to just enjoy the journey -- enjoy being out of Australia and let my performance do the talking when it comes time to compete."

World Surf League
Download it for free on the App store. Download it for free on Google Play.
Download
Download