Why Laura has The Right stuff

Jackson Lavell-LeeAugusta Margaret River Times
Laura Macaulay surfs The Right.
Camera IconLaura Macaulay surfs The Right. Credit: Matt Macdonald

There are goals and then there is becoming the first woman to conquer The Right — a massive wall of water off WA’s south coast.

Surfing the notorious wave took former South West Academy of Sport athlete Laura Macaulay three years of careful planning and practice.

Her preparations ranged from serious activities like CO2 tolerance breath-holding training to better handle a longer wipe-out, to getting the hang of jetskiing out to the open water, to simply sitting and watching the wave to gain an appreciation for it.

And when she ticked the feat off her bucket list, she became the first-known woman to surf the slab.

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The 28-year-old achieved her goal just over a year ago but the jaw-dropping footage was only released earlier this month, catapulting the Gracetown product into the national spotlight. She has received plenty of accolades and feedback but it is the support received from her famous surfing family — including sister Bronte — that Macaulay most appreciates.

“I guess the thing that means the most is when the people close to you are happy for you, then that’s when you feel you’ve achieved something,” she said.

The inspiration for taking on the big barrel came after Macaulay retired from competing in the World Surf League’s qualifying series events and wanted a goal to work towards while working as a physio in Busselton.

Working to her advantage was actually a perceived flaw of hers, where she tends to surf low.

“I think it sort of suits my surfing in a way because sometimes I go too low in a normal barrelling wave.

“Because The Right draws off the reef so much, you sort of want to go low. If you try to change your line halfway through you’re sort of screwed, so I recommend staying lower than you think,” Macaulay said.

For the big-wave surfer, aiming to surf The Right was all about the journey but she did admit the first time was scary.

“On the day, I didn’t feel a crazy sense of achievement or anything. I just felt I was developing and getting to surf it,” Macaulay said.

“I wiped out there in September because it was a bit more of a southern wind and I was down pretty long but Zac Haynes put himself in a hectic position to save me on the ski.”

The near-death experience hasn’t dissuaded Macaulay from returning to the famous break.

“I’ll take any chance I get to be back out there,” she said.

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