The story of Newcastle's Nicky Wood should be held up for all of today's young, aspiring gremlins. Ripe with talent, in 1987, at the tender age of 16, Wood won the Rip Curl Easter Surfing Festival at Bells Beach, and in the process became the youngest surfer to ever win a World Championship Tour. Heading into the 1990s, Australian surf pundits considered him a potential world-beater, unfortunately for Wood, the downhill descent was not far off.
While Wood would go on to win a total of four tour events, by the start of the '90s he was seen more in the local pubs than he was in the lineup. In '92 he was busted for a bag of weed, and then in '94 he failed to qualify for the tour. That was effectively the end of his career.
But what would life be without second chances? Wood, along with free-surf legend Brendan Margieson, have both been awarded wildcards into the 4-Star Breaka Burleigh Pro, which begins on Australia's Gold Coast today. At 40 years old, he lucked into a randomly drawn "Win a Wildcard" promotional competition with event sponsor Breaka Flavored Milk.
It took organizers awhile to realize that the "Nicolas Wood" that won the drawing was in fact the one and only Nicky Wood, but once they caught on they quickly examined the heat draw to see if there were any legendary matchups in store. Turns out, should Wood make it to Round Four he could potentially face Mark Occhilupo. More than 20 years ago the two were fierce rivals, and the pair could pick up right where they left off ... albeit a little more stiff in the back.
The forecast for the Breaka Burleigh Pro is looking promising, and as 2010 World Tour campaigners filter into the Gold Coast, there will be no shortage of interest in what transpires.