BIRUBI Point's Elle Clayton-Brown has lived her life in the water.
In 2012, the Port Stephens Examinerran a story about three siblings - Elle Clayton-Brown, 10, Mike Clayton-Brown, nine, and Helena Broughton, 13 - who along with their ironman father Mark Watson were representing Fingal Bay Surf Life Saving Club in a competition at Forster.
Fast-forward to the present day, and Elle and Mike have growing reputations as surfers.
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As well as the usual club and regional events, Elle has been surfing World Surf League World Qualifying Series events since 2016, and is now ranked #31 in the Australia/Oceania women's division.
Raised at Birubi Point, Clayton-Brown did what many Hunter coast surfers do when they start doing well in club contests. She left Bay Area Boardriders and joined Merewether.
"There were a few girls in the club up here but if you are serious about it you need to keep pushing yourself," Clayton-Brown said.
"I was encouraged to go down there, and so Mike and I both joined.
"It's been really good. There's a group of girls and we all get to surf with and against each other, to train for competitions, practice live heats, that sort of thing."
She and her friends compete against the boys.
"Any time you win it's a proud moment, you feel pretty good," she says.
Like every young woman surfer I've spoken with, Clayton-Brown looks up to the slightly older but still competing generation, especially Philippa Anderson, who seems be a "den mother" to the rising stars.
Clayton-Brown recalls competing in her first contest aged 12.
She and brother Mike are team riders for Jamie Carr's JCD Surfboards in Newcastle. Her main sponsor is Kim Burton's Burton Family Toyota.
With the advent of COVID, Clayton-Brown said she felt she needed a backup to surfing as a career, and has begun studying this year for a nursing degree from the University of Newcastle.
But her ultimate aim is the big stage, the World Championship Tour.
It's a big jump up in class, and she knows "it's very hard to make it as a surfer" but she's determined to do what it takes to "give it a real crack again".
Elle Clayton-Brown's competition highlights
Her World Surf League biography is here.
2020: pro junior ranking: #9 (in a COVID affected year)
2021: WSL Avoca QS3000 17th
2020: WSL gold coast pro junior 5th
2020: WSL Maroubra QS1000 13th
2020:Youth Slash n Bash, Frenchmans Beach, 1st
First: Newcastle regional titles, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
First: Newcastle school regional titles, 2017, 2018, 2019
Fourth NSW state titles U-18s 2019
First: King of the Box, Shoal Bay, 2018 and 19
Merewether Woman's club champion, 2018 and 19
First: Surfest open women's trials, 2019
Second: Kaos Surf Pro-Am, Birubi, 2018
First: Australian Allstars title, 2017
Invited to Layne beachley HPC camp 2017
1st billabong aus grom cup 16/U 2017
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