Northland watersports fanatic Billie Scott will be on show for the world to see on Friday (tomorrow NZ time) at the ISA World Stand Up Paddle Championships in El Salvador.
Scott, 20, joined Taranaki's Jamie Andrews and Gisborne's Sean Hovell to make up the New Zealand team competing in the annual event, which started earlier this week on the world renowned El Sunzal coastline.
The competition, which featured 286 athletes from 42 nations in 2017, is the pinnacle for global stand up paddleboard (SUP) surfing, and yet Scott qualified for the competition after just a year in the sport.
Scott competed in just two New Zealand SUP surfing events to qualify for the national team after switching from the national surfing circuit, which she had competed in for about seven years.
"[SUP surfing] is pretty similar to surfing when you're up on the waves, so it's easy to transfer your skills over but you just have to get used to the paddle," Scott said.
The competition would be run and scored similar to a surfing competition in which the two best SUP surfers in a heat would advance to the next round.
Scott, who grew up barely 50 metres from Whananaki's north beach, was no stranger to watersports and confessed to having an interest in nearly all forms, including kitesurfing, foiling and windsurfing.
With her father Jaimie working as a surfboard manufacturer and kitesurf designer, Scott said her passion for watersports had been fostered from a young age.
"I grew up on the beach, out of town, so I've always been outdoorsy and my parents have always been open all water sports, not just surfing."
As a relative newcomer to SUP surfing, Scott said it took her a while to get used to holding a paddle while riding waves, but felt she had grown into the sport.
"I didn't use the paddle much [when I started], but now I've figured out you can really dig in your paddle into the water through your turns and it makes it a lot more expressive."
Scott arrived in El Salvador about a week ago and she said it had offered a stark contrast to New Zealand, seeing police officers walking down streets strapped with machine guns.
However, the second-year University of Waikato Bachelor of Science student said she enjoyed visiting the country for the first time and hoped to learn a lot from the experience.
With an exchange to Hawaii planned for next year, Scott said this competition would be a great chance to get closer to her goal to compete on the APP world tour.
"I still have a very competitive personality from my surfing background, so hopefully I make it to the top half [in El Salvador]," she said.
"In the last week, I have seen the level of competition and I'm learning and evolving constantly so I can take my surfing to the next level, with moving to Hawaii being a big part of the plan."