Bronte Macaulay: From a Head Start to Head of Her Class

Andrew Nichols

A lot has happened since our last encounter with 22-year-old Aussie Bronte Macaulay. She competed as an injury replacement surfer at the Championship Tour's Fiji Women's Pro and Oi Rio Pro, where she made it to Round Four. More recently, she's had an incredible run on the Women's Qualifying Series (QS), where she won the Los Cabos Open of Surf and made the Semis appearance at the Copa El Salvador Impresionante.

Bronte Macaulay (AUS) Bronte Macaulay jumped to No. 1 on the QS rankings with a win in Los Cabos and a Semifinal finish in El Salvador -- collecting 9,550 points total. - WSL / Marenelmar

Those huge results sent her to the top of the QS rankings until Malia Manuel's recent win at Oceanside that sent Macaulay to No. 2. which, if she can stay there, will let her punch her ticket for a spot on the CT in 2017. We caught up with the West Oz native to get the secrets to her success, and her take on being so close to making the big leagues.

Bronte Macaulay (AUS) showing timeless style in the bottom turn only leads to explosive, progressive maneuvers. Macaulay's classic style merges with explosive, progressive skill that is proving to be a big threat on any playing ground. - WSL / Kurt Steinmetz

WSL: You're in the best place you could be in terms of rankings, but there's still half a year of QS contests ahead. How are you approaching that, starting with the Supergirl Pro (QS6,000) in a few weeks?
BM: I just really wanted to get two big results in last those events. I knew if I could do that, it would take a lot of the pressure off at the end of the year. Mexico was such a fun trip, and I guess after I got my first win, I was just so excited to surf Punta Roca (in El Salvador) because it's such an amazing wave. I haven't done too well at the Supergirl event before, but that's okay, hopefully this year I'll have a better run.

The CT is where you've gotta surf at your very best to make heats and the QS is more about adapting to conditions and sometimes just gritting it out.

I'm pretty happy with the position I'm in at the moment, but there's still more work to do with another two QS6000s left. I feel like I've still got so much to improve on, but as long as I'm enjoying it and giving it a good crack I'll be happy at the end of the day.

WSL: The last time we spoke with you, you were making a lot of noise as a wildcard on the CT . What's the been the biggest difference between the dream tour and the QS? And what experience have you brought from the grind to the top tier?
BM: I think the CT is where you've gotta surf at your very best to make heats and the QS is more about adapting to conditions and sometimes just gritting it out. I feel a lot more calm and composed in heats on the QS now. I feel like I'm much more comfortable with priority. I'm still making tons of mistakes, but I'm trying my best and feel like I'm competing better than in previous years.

Bronte Macaulay during her Round One heat. The 22-year-old has been proving herself on the CT, and returning to the QS with more confidence than ever. - WSL / Ed Sloane

WSL: And the results have followed with some key support coming from your family, particularly your dad, who's also your shaper and coach. How is it to have someone like him -- a former pro surfer -- in your corner?
BM: It's been everything. I feel comfortable and confident that I'm on great equipment. I love having him at events. He's very easy-going and funny in his own way, but then when it comes to competition he's very smart and on top of things such tides, lineups and wave choice. He's always tweaking and making small chances to my boards, and I think he's got such a good eye for shaping. We're both learning heaps about what boards go good in different conditions and locations. He probably gets a bit fed up with me talking about boards, because half the time, I don't really know what I'm talking about (laughs). At the end of the day, he's just a really great parent who I love to spend time with.

Bronte Macaulay (AUS) with her father right out of the water after winning the QS6000. Father and daughter duo Dave and Bronte Macaulay celebrating her Los Cabos win following the final horn. - WSL / Marenelmar

I'm from a family of six, and we're all a really close bunch. I'm constantly facetiming and messaging them whenever we travel. My mum watches all my heats, no matter the time differences, which is so cute.

WSL: Knowing you have that support, do you consider yourself mentally and physically prepared for the elite Championship Tour?
BM: I honestly have so much to improve on both physically and mentally but hopefully I will be ready for next year if I'm lucky enough to qualify. The experience I had this year so far was great. I love how you can see everyone's different approaches and take notes on the things that suit your approach.

If I qualify for the 2017 CT, I think I'm at a good age where I'm mature enough and ready for all the traveling.

Just surfing the different tour locations and finding out what boards work best, which accommodation is most suited, and what waves I could surf at home which are similar. I've taken my time with things, finishing school and enjoying surfing at home. If I qualify, I think I'm at a good age where I'm mature enough and ready for all the traveling.

Bronte Macaulay, who is surfing as an injury replacement at the 2016 Fiji Women's Pro, at the opening ceremony. For Macaulay (third from left) said that being in the water with one of her best friends, CT rookie Keely Andrew (second from left), at Bells was one of the best parts that comes with pro surfing. Above, the two at Fiji's opening ceremony. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

WSL: Now for some fun stuff: What are you reading right now?
BM: Right now I'm reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fan and could re-watch the movies and re-read the books over and over again.

WSL:What are the top three songs on your Spotify?
BM: "Velvet skies" by Sticky Fingers, "Hunger of the Pine" by Alt-J and "Growing up" by Run River North.

Bronte Macaulay winning her Round One heat. Whether it's reading lines from Harry Potter, or drawing lines on perfect righthanders, Macaulay has a pretty good balance in place. - WSL / Ed Sloane

WSL: What's one thing about your habits or daily life that you're trying to improve -- and the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
BM: I'm trying to live more in the present and enjoying every little moment as they come. The best advice I've gotten is do the things you love, and the rest will follow.

Bronte Macaulay (AUS) moving straight into the Quarterfinals with two-way tie for the event's highest heat total of 18.16. Macaulay's vicious backhand rivals that of some of the top CT competitors -- edging out Tatiana Weston-Webb in El Salvador for their Round 5 clash. - WSL / Kurt Steinmetz

WSL: Best advice or vital piece of knowledge that you've gotten competing as a CT injury replacement?
BM: Back yourself to the end and don't be too hard on yourself if you don't surf at 100 percent, or things don't feel perfect. Most importantly enjoy the experience, because after all, you're surfing some of the best waves in the world with the world's best surfers.