Come meet Australian surfing's next big thing, Molly Picklum
© Andrew Shield
Teenage shredder extraordinaire Molly Picklum's trophy cabinet is filling up rapidly, despite the Australian's career having not long begun. Get to know the future star right here, right now.
There are few surfers in Australia who've garnered as much recognition as Molly Picklum over the last few years and for good reason. Aged just 18, Picklum has two back-to-back Australian Championship titles to her name, claimed the Australian Pro Junior in 2019 and was named Female Rising Star at the Australian Surfing Awards in 2020. Not a bad haul for someone who's clearly just getting started.
When she's not winning heats you can find Picklum in the line-up at her local beach breaks on the Central Coast of New South Wales and it's in these punchy Pacific peaks a few hours north of Sydney that she's honed her technique, above and below the lip. Whether she's cracking jokes with her mates, or training hard for competition, Picklum is an outgoing personality and a talent you'll be seeing a lot of more as she vies for a spot on the World Surf League's Championship Tour.
Mick Fanning surprised Picklum on the Gold Coast recently and following a surf with the former world champ, the woman they call 'Pickles' sat down to give us a bit of insight into her goals, aspirations and plans for the future.
What's the next big goal on the horizon for you?
Honestly, I'm just so pumped to surf competitively again. In 2021 I want to put myself in a good position to qualify for the world tour, but the biggest thing for me is to continue to learn and test myself. I also want to keep putting myself in bigger waves and push myself in that way.
Mick Fanning is a good friend and mentor of yours and now you have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, is that a bit surreal?
I still can't believe I'm on the same team as an athlete like Mick. He's someone I look up to in so many ways – yes, he's Mick Fanning, but he has also conducted his career so well. It's really inspirational and I hope I get to spend a bit more time with him, both in and out of the water. I really want to tap into all that knowledge he possesses.
Why big waves?
I think big waves are one of the steps where women's surfing is going and needs to go, so I'm trying to get on the front foot. I'm not a total scaredy-cat, but bigger surf isn't my strongest point and I'd like to turn my semi-weakness into a strength.
The past 12 months have obviously been a bit different than you're used to. How have you spent your time?
You know, as hard as a year it was for everyone, I really enjoyed it. I was able to spend time in school, rather than trying to home school online from the road, and I actually got to finish my high school studies. I passed my exams!
It's been really good to be home. I feel really fortunate that I live near the beach and was able to surf the whole time. I spent time reconnecting with friends and family, and I also was able to spend heaps of time with my coach, Glenn Hall. We used the last 12 months as a massive advantage in my career – I was able to get to know myself and understand things a bit more, from dealing with emotions through to my technique in the water.
What was your biggest win during that time of self-improvement?
I think it was my completion rate of airs. They've come a long way since the start of 2020. I've made some air reverses and full rotations that I'm pretty proud of.
You've been spending a bit of time in the ocean in a boat, rather than sitting on a board. Tell us about that.
Yeah, I've been doing a lot of fishing. One of our hometown heroes, Shane Holmes, has been taking me out and it’s so fun – you're in the ocean and everything else just goes out the window. I get seasick, but that's how much I love being out there. I just deal with it. We only catch what we plan on eating and once we've done that we go in. The last fish I caught was a kingfish and it was so sick. I thought I lost it so many times, it was an emotional rollercoaster.
What else do we need to know about Molly Picklum?
I love bike riding, but I don't get to do it enough. I really just enjoy hanging out with friends, I put a big value on that time spent together, driving around the streets singing in the car.
What's your ultimate goal and what motivates you to continue doing what you do?
It sounds so clichéd, but honestly my goal is to reach my full surfing potential. Hopefully that means winning world titles and gold medals, but at the end of the day this is the pathway I've chosen in life and I just want to put 100 percent effort in. I want to be the best I can be at what I do.
Need more Molly? Get to know this up-and-coming star with a few quick-fire questions…
Dogs or cats?
Dogs. I have an American Staffy.
Rain or snow?
I've never been to the snow, so I don’t know, but I really want to go.
Run or train?
Train. I'll never run unless I have to. Never for physical activity.
Comedy or drama?
Comedy. I love the Pitch Perfect series.
That's tough. I have a few, but I'd have to say tennis player Ashleigh Barty. She just has it all sorted. Surfers can look like they have it all together, but most of the time they don't. Ash, she’s just a legend. I really look up to the way she carries herself on and off the court.
Spiders, snakes or 100-foot Jaws.
I placed in the quarters at the QS10,000 in Manly in 2020 and that felt really good. Also going back-to-back with Aussie titles, because back then I was working on consistency and I did it. Also, winning the Australian Pro Junior in 2019.
To be the best that I can be. That's the ultimate.
Best joke you know?
Oh boy, I don't even know. All my jokes are in the moment, but probably all the jokes that are in the Christmas crackers – they're so cheesy that they’re great.