Breaking: The Margaret River Pro Just Got Cancelled

18 Apr 2018 5 Share

World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore earlier in the event. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore earlier in the event. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

COASTALWATCH | NEWS

The WSL has just made the huge decision of calling off the remainder of the Men's and Women's Margaret River Pro Championship Tour events this year. The decision comes after two shark incidents in the region on Monday April 16 and a number of high profile surfers in the event  – including 2014 World Chamion Gabriel Medina and current World No.1 Italo Ferreira – posting to social media they no longer felt safe competing and training in the region.

Yesterday, the WSL chose to have a lay-day due to poor conditions, but also while they assessed the situation. This morning, they reportedly met with the surfers at 8am to decide whether they moved forward with the event or not. And it appears that decision is to not.

As it stands, points for the event will be awarded for the rounds surfers have completed. Meaning, the remaining surfers in the men's event will receive 13ths, the remaining women in the event will receive 5ths.

However, the WSL has stated they may possibly complete the remainder of the event later in 2018.

Not since the Mick Fanning shark incident in the final of the 2015 J-Bay Open have we seen an event been brought to an end before a final result.

Here is the WSL Press Release in full:

Today, the WSL has made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of the Margaret River Pro, as a result of exceptional circumstances surrounding this season's event regarding sharks and the safety of our surfers. This decision has been reached after many hours of consultation with a variety of stakeholders and experts.

The WSL puts the highest premium on safety. This cannot be just talk, and it cannot be compromised. Surfing is a sport that carries various forms of risk, and is unique in that wild animals inhabit our performance environment. Sharks are an occasional reality of WSL competitions, and of surfing in general. Everyone associated with our sport knows that. There have been incidents in the past -- and it's possible that there will be incidents in the future -- which did not (and will not) result in the cancellation of an event. However, current circumstances are very unusual and troubling, and we have decided that the elevated risk during this season's Margaret River Pro has crossed the threshold for what is acceptable.

On April 16th (local time), two separate shark attacks occurred at nearby Gracetown - approximately 6 kilometers away from the primary event site at Main Break. The presence of beached whales in the area has attracted sharks and contributed to the aggression of their behavior, which, experts agree, has increased the possibility of further attacks. These findings have resulted in nearby locations being closed to surfing and swimming.

We are committed to being as prepared as possible for what nature throws at us. The WSL maintains strong and constantly-improving safety, monitoring and support infrastructure and protocols, and we would normally have a high degree of confidence in our ability to protect our athletes. However, the threshold has been crossed for the organization and if we decided to continue the event under the current circumstances, and something terrible were to take place, we would never forgive ourselves.

We are painfully aware that this decision will have commercial ramifications for the local community, and will disappoint some of our partners, fans and athletes. We sincerely regret that.

Our competitive structure allows for points distribution in the event of a cancellation. However, we are not giving up yet on somehow completing both men's and women's competition this year, and will communicate our thoughts on that when we know more.

Margaret River is a special venue, with incredible partners. It has produced many memorable moments over the years, and at the moment we have no plans not to return in the future.

We appreciate that not everyone will agree with this decision, but hope that they will respect it. Athlete safety will always be our absolute priority and we thank the local community, our partners and our surfers for supporting the decision.

Thank you for your understanding,
Sophie Goldschmidt
WSL CEO

Gabriel Medina's Instagram Post From Monday April 16:

Coastalwatch had the above caption translated. Translated, it reads:

Today there has been two shark attacks at a nearby beach close to the competition area. I don't feel entirely comfortable training and competing in this kind of situation, as anytime something could happen to one of us. I hope not. Just giving my opinion before it's too late! ?

Conner Coffin's Response To The Decision, Post To Instagram Today:

And a response to the decision by Gabriel Medina, again on Instagram:

WSL Championship Tour Deputy Commissioner Renato Hickel breaks down how the points and prizemoney gets divied up:

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