Piper pushing for the stars
\SURF SCENE with Andrew McKinnon
BY ALL accounts it's been a stunning year for Coolangatta's next surfing sensation, 16-year-old Piper Harrison.
The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School Year 11 student kicked off 2017 with a huge first win, her first World Qualifying Series event victory at Phillip Island, Victoria.
But according to Piper her best was winning the under-18 girls Australian Junior title at Culbura, NSW, this month.
"I really worked hard all year to achieve that goal,” she said.
Winning her first national title qualified Piper for selection in the Australian under-18 girls team to compete in the 2018 World ISA titles. Piper will now lead the Australian girls' team and her first chance to win a world title.
Originally from Victoria, Piper's parents made the move to the Gold Coast a couple of years ago. They both surf and have been her biggest influences in the water and out.
"My mum and dad both surf and I guess it kind of rubbed off on me,” said Piper who began surfing before she could walk.
"I grew up at Gunnamatta Beach, surfing cold water, punchy beach breaks that get super fun. My first contest was our little boardriders junior event when I was only four. I got fourth out of four,” she laughed.
It's no surprise she now calls Snapper Rocks home and her favourite spot to surf after Gunna.
"Snapper is just an epic-shaped wave that I couldn't ask for anything more,” said the Snapper Rocks Surfriders Club member.
"Snapper Rocks Club is a great community of people who support each other. It's really great to know that you have a whole group of people backing you.”
Not surprisingly, seven time world women's champion Stephanie Gilmore is one of Piper's three favourite surfers, the other two are three-time world champion Mick Fanning and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater.
It's a long road ahead but Piper has set her sights high and would one day like to be a world champion.
It's a surfing family affair with the Harrisons and there's no lack of competition and friendly rivalry with her younger brother, 13-year-old Marlon Harrison.
"I surf with my brother Marlon most of the time, he's pretty awesome! We really push each other to go bigger, I'm pretty lucky to have someone like that in my life,” Piper said.
There's no lack of young junior women surfers in the Snapper elite - a hotbed of up and coming talent.
"I surf with heaps of girls from Snapper whenever it is pumping. We cheer each other on and it's so important to support other girls out in the water especially out at Snapper,” she said.
Next year will be even more demanding juggling Year 12 and competition commitments.
Another proud moment for Piper in 2018 will be to carry the Queen's Commonwealth Games Baton in the relay and be part of the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. Well done Piper and have fun in Hawaii.