For Summer and Taj Simon, surfing started as a hobby, but the sport quickly turned into something more when the pair started entering, and winning, competitions.
Summer, 15, has won three straight womens Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles at the famed Bells Beach and she has emerged as one of the most promising surfers in the country.
Summer’s impressive achievements were recognised last week at the National Dreamtime Awards, where she was nominated for the best new sports talent alongside rugby league and AFL stars Josh Addo-Carr, Daniel Rioli and Charlie Cameron.
The award was eventually won by Addo-Carr, but Summer said it was a fantastic honour just to be nominated alongside athletes of that calibre.
“It’s an honour to be nominated,” Summer said. “There’s only four in Australia, so it was just a shock that I actually got nominated.”
While Summer has emerged as one of the best junior surfers in the country, younger brother Taj has done his best to ensure he is not left behind.
The 13-year-old qualified for the quarter finals of the mens opens event at the 2017 indigenous titles and finished in second place in the junior boys event.
He also won the recent surfer groms competition at Cronulla, booking him a place at a three-day camp at the Surfing Australia High Performance Centre in Casuarina Beach, northern NSW.
Taj looks up to three time world champion Mick Fanning and the highlight of his young career was the day he had the opportunity to surf alongside his idol.
“I surfed with him at Snapper Rocks for the opening ceremony of the WSL Juraki teams challenge.” Taj said.
“It was good because it was the day of my birthday, so it was a really good birthday present.”
Father Mark is extremely proud of his children’s achievements and is hopeful they will continue to surf as they grow older.
“I’m as proud as any father would be with their kids achievements in sport.” Mark said. “What the kids have achieved at the age they have is a dream come true.”
The pair hope to eventually reach the World Surf League, but Mark is confident no matter what happens, they will continue to enjoy the sport and maintain the connection with the ocean that lies at the heart of their indigenous heritage.