Laura Enever giving her all for surfing
SURFER Laura Enever has always been a generous soul.
Always happy to pass on advice, lend a helping hand - or even donate the odd board.
Enever was still in her teens, fresh off a second junior world title in 2009 and new to the elite world tour when she was swept up by the determination of a young grom on the Gold Coast.
Pacha Light had been busking on a street corner before the Roxy Pro, hoping her dance routine would make enough of a splash with passersby that she could buy her very own surfboard.
It's now surfing folklore that she didn't need to.
Enever, then only 18, handed over one of her back-up competition boards. She described the experience as "one of the most rewarding things" she had done.
"I gave it to her when she was about nine. Fast forward six years and she is now sponsored by Billabong and competing in the Subway Surf Series," Enever tells News Regional Media. "She's just doing so awesome."
Enever had written on the board, "To Dear Pacha, You're the most amazing dancer EVER. Now have some fun in the surf. Laura Enever xxx".
After winning several competitions in her home surf on the Goldy, Light has gone on to place second at the Australian junior championships (2015) and competed late last year in the world juniors in Portugal.
"I never realised ... just by giving her one of my back-up boards ... that I'd help start a career," Enever said.
It also started a beautiful friendship between the pair.
"She's like a little sister to me," Enever said of Light.
"We've done a whole lot of trips together with Billabong. She actually came over to Hawaii with me last year.
"But she's way taller than me now. She was this tiny little girl when I gave her the board. Now she just towers over me."
While Light will always hold a special place in her heart, Enever is aiming to aid the entire next generation of surfers in the country.
She is one of the official ambassadors, with Joel Parkinson, for the Subway Surf Series, the pre-eminent competition for juniors (18 years and under) in Australia.
Having begun at Bells Beach in January, the seven- event series heads to Avoca this weekend.
"It's happened a little earlier (than expected), but I'm diving into it," Enever said of her duties. "It's so cool. There's nothing better than to see young groms, and how much they love it. It takes you back to where it all began in a way - that love of just riding waves.
"I'm excited to try and pass on any knowledge or experience I can to young girls, and boys, whether they just want to surf for fun or surf to compete and try to be the next world champ."
Enever, now 25, recalls being a grom in the northern beaches of Sydney and competing in boys' events.
"I was lucky I had a whole lot of older girls take me under their wing, telling me to go for it," she recalled.
"And my brother (Chris), he was was the one who got me into surfing bigger waves, pushing me to try harder.
"All the local guys at my local beach here at Narrabeen have always been incredibly supportive too. If I'm not surfing big enough waves, they'll give me a bit of s**t to get me out there," she added with a laugh.
While passing on tips to the next crop, Enever also warns of the pitfalls of life on the tour, which was like "a roller-coaster".
"It's so much fun. We have such an incredible job travelling around the world, surfing all these waves," she said. "But there's so many ups and downs in this competition ... you're going to win, you're going to lose.
"Surfing is such an unpredictable sport. You can be surfing your best and still go out. At the end of the day, a result doesn't define who you are. It took me a while to realise that.
"That's just one of the messages I pass down.
"Other than that, realising that challenges are good.
"It's not easy, but it's worth it if you can get through all the hard times."
Enever has endured a few.
The pressure is always on late in the year as she looks to lock up a top-10 finish - and the last guaranteed place on the following season's tour.
"I think I've come 10th about five times," she said.
"It's always a nailbiter."
Towards the end of 2015, she looked well out of the running, but managed to fight back and reclaim her spot in the main group for 2016.
"I was in 17th place and not knowing if I was going to make it back on the tour. I really had to dig deep."
Surfing "her brains out" in 2016, the season included a rare perfect 10 at her favourite event in Fiji, and going head to head with training partner and eventual world champion Tyler Wright in the latter rounds. Both are coached by Glenn Hall.
"I was trying to re-qualify and she was trying to win the title, it was fun," said Enever, who again finished 10th.
Enever has only just returned to the water after a long layoff and is preparing for the first event of the 2017 season, the Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks, Coolangatta.
She tore her medial collateral ligament in her knee late last year.
"It's been pretty annoying, but it's not as bad as it could've been," she said.
"It probably happened at the most perfect time, during the off-season.
"I've been training and doing lots of physio. It feels really strong now."
Enever, sitting out this week's Australian Open of Surfing - an event she won in 2015, beating six-time world champion Steph Gilmore and Wright along the way - has been been champing at the bit to return to the surf.
"The hardest was being in Hawaii, for a friend's wedding, and not being able to surf," she said. "The waves were absolutely pumping. I had to sit back and watch. It was devastating.
"But, it's made me more excited to get back in the water and really go for it this year. I've had enough of a break."
During her time of recuperation, Enever hasn't remained idle.
As well as acting as an ambassador for Mimco, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing violence against women and children, she's been busily laying the foundation for the first all-girls surfing festival in Australia. Stay tuned for further details.
"It's been a lot of work but I'm so excited," she said.
It's just another part of Enever's giving nature.
"It's nice to think about other people. It's definitely rewarding."