It's been a while since Melissa Bartz was a grommet, but she swears the feeling she gets from being in the waves is still the same.
The Boomerang Beach surfer claimed her fourth State title at North Boomerang in June, taking out the women's over-35s division of the NSW Surfmasters Titles.
"I was pretty confident," she said.
"It was my home beach and I'd done some training in the lead-up."
No stranger to competition, Mel chased a professional surfing career in her teens and twenties, spending two years on the World Qualifying Series travelling to Europe, South Africa, the United States and Hawaii.
She finished a career high 27th on the series but with a lack of financial support and a new generation of girls on the rise, including seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, she decided to give it away.
"I knew I wasn't at that level," she admitted.
"I didn't want to be stuck doing the grind for 10 years."
Nowadays the mother of two competes more for enjoyment than winning, though her results indicate her competitive desire is still very much alive.
"I love it (competing)," she said.
"There's not as many events as you get older, that's why I love the State and Aussie titles."
With two girls under seven and a business to run, she doesn't get as much time to surf as she'd like to anymore, but she still tries to fit a paddle into her schedule.
"I work every day but I try give myself an hour surf for my lunch break," she said.
Originally from the Central Coast, Mel and her husband Ceiron were drawn to Pacific Palms because of the lifestyle.
With consistent waves and a slower pace of life on offer, it's not a decision they regret.
In 2014 they opened the Kembali Cafe at Blueys Beach, seeking to offer something different than just regular cafe fare.
Drawing on Ceiron's experience as a chef on surf charter boats in Indonesia, as well as Mel's own extensive travels through the region, they came up with a menu that featured a number of popular Indonesian dishes, including Gado Gado, Nasi Goreng and Pisang Goreng.
"It was Ceiron's idea to start something new and fresh," Mel said.
"It's a real surfer's holiday area and we knew surfers liked Balinese food, so we wanted to do something that had that feel."
Away from the cafe and her own competitive pursuits, Mel is involved in nurturing the next generation of female surfers in the area.
An active member of Boomerang Boardriders - which she describes as "a real family club" - she also takes a group of girls surfing over summer and offers advice to up-and-coming talents Charlize Everitt and Leila Salt where she can.
She's also stoked with where women's surfing is at these days, with a lot more girls popping up in the water than when she started out as a 10-year-old on the Central Coast.
She remembers her and her friend - whose dad took them surfing in his blue kombi - being the only two girls doing it in the Terrigal-Wamberal area.
Fast-forward 20-odd years and it's not uncommon to see a handful of girls surfing at every beach.
The sport's governing body, the World Surf League, has moved with the times too, making the landmark decision in 2018 to offer equal prize money to their male and female athletes.
"It's great," Mel said.
"It's changed a lot of attitudes. That machoness isn't there anymore."
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But regardless of the differences between now and then, Mel's love for the sport is still the same.
She says she was hooked from the first moment and has been ever since, turning her thoughts to the waves whenever she's got a spare moment.
"I love bigger waves, I love carving, I love going fast - I just love being in the ocean really."
With her two girls growing up in one of the most blessed regions for waves in all of Australia, she can't wait to nurture their love for surfing - with her seven-year-old already getting a taste for it and her four-year-old not far off joining her.
They were on the beach watching Mel compete for the first time when she won the Australian title in 2017, and she hoped to replicate that moment when she travelled to Tweed Heads next month to take part in the Australian Surf Championships.
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