PUBNICO HEAD - As she slips down the face of a big wave on her board, everything is going so fast, but it almost seems like it’s in slow motion, says 14-year-old Reese Nickerson.
“You’re just so focused and then you drop in and you hear this wave… everything starts to echo because you’re in the hollow of the wave. It’s cool,” she says.
What’s cool are Nickerson’s achievements this fall.
On Sept. 30, during the Club Rounds Series at Seawall in Cow Bay, she was the only female under 18. She competed with the women and placed fourth out of five.
On Oct. 21 she competed with the women again in the Club Rounds Warm Edition in Cow Bay at the Moose. She won her heat, which secured her a spot in the finals, and went on to place fifth overall (out of nine) for the women. She also competed in the u18 division, placing first.
Nickerson was eight years old when she surfed for the first time. She got her first surfboard - a 7’2” soft-top - as a Christmas present.
She found that surfing came pretty easy, but where she surfed then, the waves were small and the board was big.
Two summers ago, she bought a 5’9” short board, which is not as buoyant and takes much more effort to get up on and ride. It was time to get serious.
She says she was nervous about competing, especially the paddling out part and getting over those seemingly insurmountable crests.
“Definitely when you go to paddle out in those waves, they’re not small and it’s definitely a mental thing,” she says.
This summer she learned how to conquer the challenge thanks to an instructor with East Coast Surf School in Lawrencetown.
She says the waves were pretty big that first day and she didn’t want to take the lesson because she was afraid.
“But he said, ‘no, you’ve got to do it.’ He taught me a lot. Not so much on what to do when I get in the wave, but how to get out through the waves,” she says.
She now prefers reef surfing or point breaks as opposed to beach surfing.
Video credit to Chris Broughton
“Once you surf them, you never want to go back to a beach. Where the rocks are, the wave is so much cleaner and nicer of a wave. You don’t have to get out through the mess of the white water, you just paddle out and are able to surf.”
She says on one ride during the competition she could hear the wave’s tunnel coming behind her.
“I never had that type of experience before so I really didn’t know what to do, but when I got out of the water the guys were telling me all I had to do was grab the rail of my surfboard and slow it down, because I was going really fast.”
Her mother, Melissa, has glowing praise for the surfing community.
“All the women just took her under their wing, and the guys too. They were all cheering her on. They were surprised to see her out there,” she says.
When this Grade 9 student at Drumlin Heights school is asked if she’d ever like to compete in Hawaii or Australia, she has a quick answer.
“Oh, that’s like the dream,” she says.
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