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Five Minutes with Brittani Nicholl

Five Minutes with Brittani Nicholl, JettyGirl Online Surf Magazine

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Five Minutes with Brittani Nicholl: JettyGirl Visits with One of Australia's Finest Young Surfers - Photos by Chris Grant

Brittani Nicholl surf photo by Chris Grant

"Mum and Dad have always supported me in everything I do. They get a lot of enjoyment from watching me surf and progress. They also get the bonus of spending a lot of time with me, which they love.

--Brittani Nicholl

Within ten minutes of meeting Brittani and her parents, I felt like they were family. In an industry based largely on self-centeredness and idol worship, the Nicholls are real, down-to-earth, awesome people. Our walks down to Lowers weren't filled with awkward silence but with genuine stories of life back home, of Brittani's challenges of living with Crohn's Disease, and the comparing of notes between Australian and American culture.

Brittani Nicholl is a fantastic surfer and is one of Australia's most promising young talents. She's gifted with an ultra-smooth style and she hits the lip with such speed that I had trouble focusing fast enough to capture her in a photo. After you've had a chance to read her interview, be sure and check out the video of Britt ripping on Australia's Tweed Coast. --Chris Grant

JettyGirl: Your website states that you grew up in Cabarita Beach on the North Coast of Australia. What's your hometown like?
Brittani Nicholl: It's a coastal town with a population of about 3000-4000. It can be pretty busy at times and in the water, but you soon learn to deal with it. There's a good little bakery down the road, and there is a main street with a few shops and services. It's a good stretch to live on, as there are beachbreaks pretty much all along the coast, and quite a few point breaks, all within minutes of each other. We have a good steady climate most the year round. There's no place like home.

JG: You spent quite a bit of time in Southern California this summer, how is life here different than back home?
BN: I loved my time spent over in Southern California, we had good waves and a swell which made it so much better, and also had a great photographer who spent his whole day in the water with me kicking his little legs a hundred miles per hour. I found the people, friendly and polite. I felt comfortable over there and it wouldn't be too hard to adjust to their way of living and lifestyle.
Everything over there is soo much bigger then at home, big cars, big signs, and huuuuge food portions!! Also, it seems there is always something going on, and things are always happening ...everything seems so fast paced.

JG: While in the US, did you take any interesting side trips anywhere? If so, please share a memory or two...
BN: I did take a few side trips. We had lunch in Venice where we saw some interesting sites. We called in to Morro Bay for a quick stop and look around, it seemed like a nice little fishing area. We headed off North for five days or so and drove up to San Francisco, stopping a night in at Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz along the way. I really liked Santa Barbara, it's a nice area ...although there was no swell the further we headed North. Even with lack of swell, we still saw a contest at Santa Cruz where they were wearing booties and steamers. I honestly didn't know what they were surfing because there weren't any waves. The surfers were sitting behind a rock waiting for the guys up on the cliff to call them into a set which was no more then a 2-foot bump.

San Francisco was pretty hectic and after doing the touristy thing there, we went on to Las Vegas and spent a night there after driving endless hours along the heated desert! It was pretty amusing when we saw a sign saying, "Turn off air conditioning, as this may cause overheating." It would have been pretty bad to be stuck out there in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road in 50-degree (equivalent to your 120) heat! Las Vegas was cool, there were casino's everywhere, as well as the people lined up in the street trying to hand you 'girlie' cards. They hassle you as much as the people on the streets in Bali! We also did Disneyland whilst we were over there which was a bit of fun.

JG: People who watched you ripping our local beaches this summer wouldn’t be able to tell by watching you, but you’ve had Crohn's disease for a good part of your life. For those of us that don’t know, what is Crohn's disease?
BN: Yes, I've had Crohn's Disease for 12 years now, and after major surgery in late 2007, I've ended with an ileostomy bag, which I've had for just over 2 years now.

Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease which can affect both the small and large intestine, also any part of the digestive tract. The inflammation extends deep into the lining of the affected organ, causing ulceration. In my case this lead to bleeding, vomiting, fevers and night sweats, abdominal pain, diarrhea and loss of appetite, causing severe weight loss and fatigue.
After receiving the ileostomy bag, I've had none of these symptoms and have been living a normal and healthy life.

JG: We met your parents over the summer and they’re awesome ...driving you places, taking Lowers trips, and filming all of your surf sessions. Were they athletes when they were younger too? How has their support helped you as you try to achieve your goals in surfing?
BN: Hahaha, Dad just laughed ...saying that he 'still' is an athlete! (He likes to think so). Both mum and dad were athletes when they were younger. Mum was a competitive runner, she also liked to skate down big hills (and fall off), as well as have a bit of fun on a motorbike. Dad was a keen soccer player, and was still playing up until a few years ago. I played in an indoor cricket team with him last year which was fun, he also used to play rugby league and was a keen golfer, surfer, skater and motorbike rider was pretty talented in most the things he participated in, he 'was' a good surfer back in the day but just doesn't get in the water much anymore.

Mum and dad have always supported me in everything I do. They get a lot of enjoyment from watching me surf and progress. They also get the bonus of spending a lot of time with me, which they love. They film and help coach me as well. Seeing myself surf back on a screen has been the best tool in helping me to advance my surfing. They've said that if I wasn't doing this kind of sport, they would have saved a lot of money, but they also wouldn't have seen a lot of the places that they now have.

Brittani Nicholl surf video clip
Watch Brittani surf
JG: You’ve produced some nice surf video clips of yourself, one of which ended up here on JettyGirl as well as being shown on Surfline. How did you get into editing video and is that something you’d like to continue pursuing?
BN: Yes, thank you to the people behind putting my clip up on those sites. Over the years I've been surfing I've always enjoyed the media side of things with the filming and video editing. When my parents started filming I liked that I could watch it back on the tv, but after a while I thought it'd be cool to start playing around with it and whip up a few clips. All the stuff I've done is self taught, I just pick things up as I go.

I studied Multimedia in my last years at school and did a film for my major project in year 12 which got me high marks, although it was unfinished due to me ending up in the hospital for surgery.

I completed a 6-month course last year in Graphic Design, which was good, but I find that I still enjoy the filming and editing more. I'm currently in the middle of a course of just that, Filming, Editing and Animation. Both of these courses are based around the surf, skate and snow industries, which has given me more of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. I'd like to continue pursuing things in this direction, it's something I enjoy doing in addition to my surfing and competing. I mean most of the time I've got my camera on me, so it's good to edit some stuff whilst I'm away and when times of boredom strike.

JG: Some quick favorites... Favorite food?
BN: Favorite Food - Magnum Ego.

JG: Reading material?
BN: Reading Material - Lance Armstrong, "It's Not About The Bike."

JG: Color?
BN: Some people may think 'pink', but it's actually bluey/green, kind of aqua but not.

JG: Animal?
BN: Small dog.

JG: Favorite surfer while you were a grom?
BN: Favorite Surfer back in the day - I can't really remember to be honest, but I do look up to Lance Armstrong.

JG: Surfing maneuver?
BN: Power carve.

JG: Wave?
BN: Home.

JG: Any parting thoughts, goals, props or thank you’s?
BN: Being a good person, keeping healthy and enjoying my surfing are my main priorities, I'm just going to continue what I'm doing and take life as it comes, one day at a time.

A big thank you to Brett and Shelby Detmers for accommodating us and being great friends, as well as Kurtis from Kurtis Goggles for taking the time and effort to come down and hang out. Also, a massive thank you to Chris Grant who kicked and kicked and kicked to get some great shots!

Thanks to the guys from Futures - Tim and Vince. Shaddy from Electric. Megan from Billabong. Mick and Adam, for believing in what I do and who I am. Surfline and JettyGirl.

Special Note: For more information about Crohn's Disease, please visit Living with Crohn's Disease or Crohn's Online


Additional Resources:



Future Fins

Kurtis Surf Goggles


Living with Crohn's Disease

Crohn's Online



Photo Gallery Format: Flash uses Adobe Flash for many of our photo galleries. Download the free player for Mac or Windows by clicking the banner on the left.


Caption Index - All photos ©Chris Grant/

1. This fin-throw was amazing! Check out our 'Sequences' gallery this month to see the rest of Brittani's snap.
2. Right when Brittani made it to the bottom I had to bail. This one was a close call. Sorry I blew your wave Britt!
3. First wave of our first Lowers session. Beautiful water and a fantastic turn to match. Brittani Nicholl.
4. Newport was a free-for-all on this day. At least nobody got hurt.
5. A serious turn and a serious look, somewhat comically sharing the same frame.
6. No matter what the era, a strong off the top will always be in style.
7. A midday fan by Brittani Nicholl, the first of many as she sped down the point.
8. Even on the most crowded of days, an occasional wave will roll through with your name on it. Britt scores a fun one.
9. A nice slice by one of Australia's most promising young surfers, Brittani Nicholl.
Brittani Nicholl blasts the inside section with speed and precision.



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