- WSL / Thomas Bennett

Bronte Macaulay has put in a string of superlative freesurfing performances over the last 12 months. However now 27, and with three full years experience on the CT, it's time to for her results to better reflect her obvious talent.

That's why of all the relieved and excited surfers after the announcement that the Newcastle Pro was to be the first CT of the Australian Leg, she may have been the most stoked.

Bronte Macaulay on Day 6 of Newcastle Surfest Pro pres. by Burton Automotive Bronte Macaulay on the way to victory in Newcastle. - WSL / Thomas Bennett

The Western Australian had kicked off her 2020 QS campaign with a win at Merewether. However, when competition was canceled soon after she was left stranded at the top of the QS ratings.

However, throughout the rest of the year Macaulay didn't let a lack of competition blunt her edge. With surfing allowed in Western Australia, the goofy footer set about tackling some of the best, and heaviest waves, her home state had to offer.

Some of her clips, especially from winter sessions up in the north-western desert, were the highlights of the non-competitive year. Her tuberiding at waves like Gnaraloo showed that Bronte was in a league of her own when it comes to surfing waves of consequence with confidence and style.

Macaulay took that confidence when she traveled to Hawaii. She finished an impressive fourth in the Digital Vans Triple Crown, and logged the highest points tally at Sunset. It was only at Pipeline where she failed to log big numbers. However given time at the iconic wave, you'd expect her forehand tuberiding skill to eventually come to the fore.

It was those freesurfing performances that had many of her peers frothing. In the recent Stab Surfer of the Year Poll, both Caroline Marks and Stephanie Gilmore placed Bronte as their number one surfer of the year. No small praise indeed.

Yet the challenge now is for Macaulay to translate her peer respect and talent into competitive results. Since making her full-time debut on the CT in 2017 her best finish was a 13th in 2019. In each of her three years on Tour she's needed to re-qualify through the QS.

And while she has done that with relative ease, finishing fourth, fifth, and second, it's an unsustainable long-term plan. More than that, Macaulay's recent performances have shown that qualification through a top ten finish on the CT is well within her grasp.

Bronte Macaulay on Day 6 of Newcastle Surfest Pro pres. by Burton Automotive Bronte with that winning feeling almost 12 months ago. - WSL / Thomas Bennett

Now her 2021 season didn't get off to a great start... A Round 2 loss on her favored backhand at Maui was a blow. Yet with Newcastle now set as the next CT event, the defending champion will be itching to build on her epic 2020 performances.

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