This Week In Surfing: Could The WSL Cancelling Margarets Be A Line In The Sand Moment? Plus, Pumping J-Bay!

20 Apr 2018 9 Share

Mike Jennings

Senior Writer

Despite the threat of sharks, Jordy Smith had no problem finding good waves and tearing the bag out of them while he was in WA.

Despite the threat of sharks, Jordy Smith had no problem finding good waves and tearing the bag out of them while he was in WA.

COASTALWATCH | THIS WEEK IN SURFING

Ten Things From Surfing & The Internet On The Week That Was April 20, 2018

1. The Margaret River Pro Got Cancelled Mid-Event

What the poo is going on here?! Remember this time last week? A Friday afternoon/night in, a couple beers on the coffee table and absolutely pumping North Point bringing the entertainment to our TVs, laptops, iphones and group message threads. Such, fun, simpler times. Surfing and the WSL seemed to be in such a good place then, didn't it? Such a great spectacle!

Enter the sharks.

Monday morning a shark gets a fella surfing at a break called Cobblestones – 20 minutes drive from the main comp site – by the legs. The quick thinking of the local surfers there saved his life. (Actually, you should really read Dan Wyer's retelling of the event from the perspective of a local surfer and a part of that community. It's wonderful writing. And then you should read Nick Carroll's chat with Tarryn Sparkes, one of the young fellas on the scene of the attack.) They call the comp off for an hour. Then send the girls back out there. News gets around that the break just south of Cobblestones, Lefthanders, has a whale carcass washed up on the beach. Then a couple of hours into the afternoon, another surfer, this time at Lefthanders, gets a minor (by shark standards) gash to his legs as another shark (or the same shark) has a go at him. The surfer was out there despite all the beaches in the area being closed, and a freaking dead whale on the beach at that very break. Wild.

Monday evening, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira post to Instagram that they don't feel safe training or surfing in the region. Johanne Defay comments on Gabriel Medina's post that she doesn't feel safe either.

Tuesday morning rolls around and the comp is off for the day while the WSL meet for the day to discuss things. Sharks probably. But maybe Bachelor In Paradise, we can't be sure.

Wednesday morning the WSL meet with the surfers to inform them that the event will not run. That the points and prizemoney will be split amongst the remaining surfers, unless they finish the event at a date later in the year which is floated as a possibility. 

And then came the trashfire that is any controversial surfing news item in the age of the Internet. Everybody has a take, everybody has a conspiracy, and people who like posting racist comments about Brazillian surfers, well they made very sure they didn't miss their opportunity take fire... bless their depressing little hearts.

The unquestionable thing here is that there is a lot of emotion around this decision. Especially for the surfing community of the  Margaret River region, who care about this event, love this event. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, there is no changing the fact that the decision was made, and that that decision will have ramifications for West Aus surfing. While shark debates have been raging for years in West Aus (and the rest of Aus) the fact that their blue-ribbon event – an event backed by the West Aus Government – has been brought to a halt could become something of a line-in-the-sand moment for West Australian surfing and its shark problem.

If it's deemed that it is not safe for the World Surf League to hold an event in one of Australia's greatest surfing locations, with all of their world class resources for water safety in tow, then what does that mean for surfers who surf there every day of the year when the circus leaves town? If the world's leading body for the sport of surfing officially states that they could not in good conscience continue surfing in the area, it surely tugs threads out from the fabric of a community where surfing means everything. 

And the other big question is: How many International events does the West Aus have? How many platforms does West Aus tourism have to show that it has one of the most wonderful coastlines in the world, and how important is that to them? How much does the shark issue affect that? Sure, it's no Grand Prix, but it is a major international sporting event, and a major international sporting event being cancelled because of sharks is a problem. It's pretty easy to imagine surfers from the area that have been screaming for something, anything to be done, yelling once again, "See, see! Even the WSL doesn't feel safe!"

Is there a solution? Let me rephrase that: Is there a right, ethical solution, that works? Cause over the next 12 months WA, and the Margaret River surfing community whom this means so much for, desperately need to find it.

Below is a post to Instagram in response to the decision by Conner Coffin.

P.S. Conner Coffin will go on to become an Ace Buchan/Kieren Perrow type, surfer's rep to WSL Commissioner sorta thing, in about 12 years time. You heard it here first.

2. Here's Some Viral-Ish Shark Attack Footage

Remember that second shark attack I was talking about above, well here is the video someone took on their phone of the incident. 

3. Jordy Freesurfing In The West

Apparently some of these waves were filmed during a session when the WSL put a halt to the Margaret River Pro as the news of the first shark attack at Gracetown came in. They got back out there not too long later. The surf was not this good on Wednesay, nor will it be for the rest of the event window. Which has people asking whether the event would have kept on going had the surf been pumping.

4. More Jordy Freesurfing In The West

DId you know, now that the Margaret River Pro has been cancelled, that Jordy Smith surfed just five heats in his time in Australia. He would have arrived at the beginning of March.

5. The Dooley On All The Shark Stuff, Plus Other Stuff

The weekly podcast quiz the Weak Wrap guy (Danny Johnson) and I (me) do talked all things sharks, Mikey Wright fights, and who'd be a better housemate: Sally Fitzgibbons or Matt Wilkinson? The big issues, obviously.

6. Big, Pumping J-Bay is Timeless

Now, to get away from surf spots under threat from dangerous shark activity, let’s go to South Africa and hit the line-up of a pumping, massive J-Bay as two thirds of the brothers Gudang (and Dylan Graves) make the most of a spectacular looking swell. 


7. A Lovely Clip Starring Chippa Wilson and Brendon Gibbens

Set in France! In French Beachbreaks! With 16mm and Super8 film! And a day-dreamy voiceover! It's called Through The Pines and it's a very good clip.


THROUGH THE PINES from WASTED TALENT on Vimeo.

8. Kolohe Andino's Hawaiian Bag of Hawaiian Shred-Times

I've written in the past how Kolohe Andino and Julian Wilson both have the well rounded games to make themselves the modern version of Mick Fanning. A Mick Fanning 2.0 sort of thing, and go ahead and win a bunch of World Titles. It's never come true. But watching this clip of Kolohe from the last Hawaiian winter has put some fire back under the idea. Maybe. Probably. Maybe not. I don't know.

9. Blake Myers' New Zealand Road Movie

Not surfing. But it's a beautiful movie from surf filmmaker Blake Myers getting around his homeland. So why not?

10. Patagonia's Movie Never Town Is Out

Patagonia's new movie, Never Town, hit the Internet this week! The 40 minute environmental epic is part conservation film, part surf film, and it stars Wayne Lynch, Dave Rastovich, Dan Ross, Belinda Baggs and Heath Joske taking in the very special landscape of the Australian Southern Ocean coasts. Go check it out on Patagonia's Never Town site.

And that was this week in surfing. Have a good weekend everybody. Go Raptors!


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