Bronte Macaulay was going on family surf trips before most kids can even walk. As pro, she has big flip-flops to fill: Her dad, Dave Macaulay, was on the elite Championship Tour (CT) in the 1980s and '90s and is a well-known shaper. The younger Macaulay is finding success in her own right, including two Semifinal finishes and two Quarterfinal finishes at Qualifying Series (QS) contests last year. That consistency put her within throwing distance of making the elite Tour for 2016, but she just missed the cutoff.
Next week, Macaulay will be in the CT mix, surfing as an injury replacement for Lakey Peterson at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast. Before the contest at Snapper Rocks kicks off, Bronte took some time to discuss what life was like growing up in Western Australia, the career path she almost took, and the least glamorous part of being a pro surfer.
AD: You have been making huge leaps up the QS rankings in recent years. How do you feel about your finish in 2015? What is your number-one goal for 2016?
BM: Honestly, I was disappointed with my year in 2015. I really wanted to qualify and to get one spot away stung a lot. But I feel like every year my ranking is improving and I'm getting better at competing and surfing. I think my number-one goal for 2016 is to qualify with a good seed and win a QS6,000. I also want to keep enjoying surfing and remember to cherish family and friends.
Anna Dimond: Who taught you to surf? Do you remember your first wave?
Bronte Macaulay: My dad taught me to surf and my first wave was at this swimming beach in the northwest of Western Australia. I was probably five and it was when we were on our annual camping trip. Dad shaped this 12-foot tandem board, which glided across anything. My older twin sisters and sometimes even younger brother would all be bunched together on the tandem board and dad or mum would push us on these tiny waves.
AD: What were surf sessions like growing up? Did you surf with your family?
BM: They were the best! I'm from a family of six, so when we were younger we would all go down together for early surfs before school. Usually the early mornings in West Oz are pretty chilly so we would be all rugged up with Ugg boots and big jumpers and walk down to Lefties or Huzzas together (two surf spots in Gracetown.) Sometimes me and my younger brother would come in early and just play on the beach. Mum would have freshly baked muffins or pancakes waiting at home for when we got in and then we would rush off to school all salty -- and sometimes a little late.
AD: Did your dad have much of an impact on your career choice? If so, in what ways?
BM: Not really. My mum and dad believe in doing whatever makes you happy, and they've always been there to support whatever decision we make. I remember when I finished school and I was speaking to them in the kitchen about what I should do next. My dad was like, 'You love cooking, you could open up your own cake store.' I think I told them there that I wanted to surf and compete because it was my favorite thing to do and they have helped me out in every single way possible ever since.
AD: What's the best advice he's ever given you? What advice have you ignored?
BM: The best advice he's given me is to trust yourself. The advice I usually ignore is when he's trying to get me to be more organized and always use a board bag when I have the board in the car.
AD: Did you have to give up school to go pro?
BM: I started studying to be a primary school teacher part-time online when I was 19. I'm nearly halfway through the degree now, but I've decided to put it on hold for the time being and just concentrate on surfing. I will definitely pick it up sometime down the track after I finished competing. I can't wait to teach when I'm older and more settled because little kids are the cutest.
AD: From the outside, being a pro surfer seems like the most glamorous job ever. But what is the toughest part about it?
BM: I'm not a huge fan of flying and hanging around airports. You feel gross after a big flight, you just wanna have a shower and pretty much never see the clothes that you wore on the plane again.
AD: What has been your best moment yet?
BM: The best moment was winning the local boardriders Gracetown Grommet comp when I was 11. The year before I kept getting smashed and didn't really get any waves. I went to the presentations and couldn't believe how cool the watches were that the older girls who made the Final got. I was like, 'I wanna win one of those.'
The next year me, my sisters Ellie and Laura, and another local girl were in the Final and I ended up winning. It was at this little wave called Huzzas just down the road and it's protected in this corner of Gracetown bay. I remember getting these rights and doing little backhand cutbacks right to the rocks and just frothing. I ending up winning a watch, which I kept for years.
Catch Bronte go up against Courtney Conlogue and Sage Erickson when the Roxy Pro Gold Coast kicks of March 10 local time. Watch live daily on the WSL website and app.