RIGHT AT HOME: Rosie’s second title in three days
WITH her board tucked under her arm, Rosie Smart made the familiar journey from her home break up to the Sawtell Surf Club, her beaming smile a direct contrast to the ice-cool competitiveness which helped her become a state champion.
In the space of three days, Rosie Smart has won the Surfing NSW Under-16 Junior State Title at Sawtell and the Under-16 NSW School Surfing Title at nearby Park Beach, capping off a remarkable campaign on home surf.
Yesterday's win at Park Beach means Smart will now go on to represent Bishop Druitt College and NSW at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles scheduled to take place later in 2020.
However, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the 15-year-old, who was forced to step up during some 'clutch' moments against quality opposition.
In the junior state quarterfinal on Sunday - with time running out and pressure building - Smart needed a nine-plus score to progress in Sawtell surf that wasn't offering up much.
But when her chance finally came she grabbed it with both hands.
"I was a bit stressed throughout my quarterfinal, I had a tough heat and there were some good girls in it," she said.
"But I just had to try and keep calm and when a good wave came through I gave it my best shot. And yeah, it was a good wave."
Coffs Harbour Boardriders president Lee Winkler said Smart's ability to perform under pressure was one of the young surfer's biggest attributes.
Winkler, a former professional surfer and a mentor to many of the young boardriders in the region, said it was the type of skill that could help her go further in the sport.
"In those moments where other people crumble under pressure, she seems to be very composed but hungry at the same time," he said.
"I call her 'the icewoman' - she would make a great poker player - because she doesn't let her emotion be seen by competitors and I think that is important," he said.
"If you give a competitor a sniff then you are vulnerable, it can give them a feather in their cap."
Smart was understandably elated at the win, and said the experience of performing under pressure would give her the confidence to get out of tough situations in the future.
It was made all the more significant as the final was played out in front of a home crowd on her home break at Sawtell.
And there was no doubt who they wanted her to win.
"It was pretty special because all the Coffs Boardriders and local Sawtell surfers were down there cheering me on and it was really nice to have that support down at the beach," she said.
"It doesn't happen everyday so I was pretty excited the comp was going to be held in Sawtell where I surf every day.
"It probably gave me a bit of an advantage as well. I knew where to sit and how the waves worked and everything."
The Boardriders have played a big part in Smart's development and she was thankful for their help, and the opportunity to get some valuable heat-training in the weeks leading up to the event.
Nurturing young surfers like Smart was something Winkler said was a key motivation and goal for the club, as well as instilling in them a sense of community.
A career in surfing, or sport in general, was often short-lived and that meant it was important to understand and respect your roots.
"It is a short term career and it is really important for those kids to understand the support that is given to them … because it's a cycle," he said.
"When you finish your career it's your turn to come around and support the next crop of kids coming through.
"Rosie has got such a good mindset, she has got a great work ethic and a wonderful family behind her and I think our club as a whole are really supportive of all the kids that want to go off and aspire to making a dream come true."