The first two days of the Margaret River Pro window, the third stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), were called OFF due to a more favourable swell and weather conditions predicted for later in the week.
With two full days off, the world’s best male and female surfers were able to enjoy the Margaret River region and further beyond.
Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Nikki Van Dijk and Coco Ho ventured over to Perth’s favourite island playground on a marsupial mission.
Rottnest Island is just 20 kilometres from Western Australia’s capital city Perth. Rottnest Island is blessed with crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and isolated coves.
Tourism Western Australia has promoted Rottnest Island’s natives, the little friendly Quokkas, as the happiest animals on Earth.
Upon arrival via Corsaire Aviation, the girls bicycled around the Island, stopping to take in vistas of stunning beaches and pose for selfies with some quokkas.
“This is my first time to Rottnest Island,” said Stephanie Gilmore, the current Jeep Leader.
“I didn't know the quokka selfie was a thing until Jessi Miley-Dyer [WSL Deputy Commissioner] went last year. They're actually pretty cute but Coco was terrified. She was looking at it like it was a giant killing machine. Typical Coco,” said Gilmore.
Despite Coco Ho’s apparent fear of the cute quokkas, she managed to get one of the best selfies of the day and Sally Fitzgibbons got the best group selfie of the day.
“Being on bikes and cruising around the whole island was my highlight,” said Fitzgibbons.
“Lay day activities in WA are next level, the environment and everything it has to offer just screams ‘come and explore and adventure’.
“We flew over different surf spots in the Corsaire light plane and then went and checked out Rottnest Island, cruising around on push bikes, we absolutely loved it.
“Seeing it from the air really left us wanting more, it was really cool. It was great to take our minds off searching for waves for a while and just enjoy what WA has to offer,” said Fitzgibbons, last year’s Margaret River Pro winner.
Other surfers stayed closer to the competition site, enjoying wineries, caves, golf, footy and of course surf.
For St Thomas More Primary School student Oscar Home, he had a great time teaching surfers Michel Bourez and Brett Simpson how to play Australian Rules Football when surf brand Hurley arranged to attend training at the Hawks Margaret River Junior Football Club.
“It was so cool teaching the surfers about footy after they've taught us so much about surfing. It was really fun to hang out with them,” 11-year-old Oscar said.
Besides football training, Hurley has taken some surf athletes to visit Margaret River Senior High School and held some surf clinics. There is a Hurley VIP area at Surfers Point for members of the Yallingup Boardriders Club and Cowaramup Bay Boardriders Club to hang out, watch the action and meet athletes.
John John Florence visited Jewel Cave with his coach Ross Williams and crew, toured then lunched at Leeuwin Estate winery and was spotted throwing a boomerang on the beach.
Joel Parkinson celebrated his birthday with lunch at Aravina Estate. He has also been spotted at Yallingup Maze where he was having a ball firing a mega water pistol to those trying to find their way out.
“Margies is one of the best places on tour to have lay days. The opportunities are endless especially if you have friends and family with you - it’s an awesome place to bring my wife and kids,” Parkinson said.
“There are so many great things to do, wineries, caves, mazes - actually I’m staying an extra week after the event with my family just to fit it all in,” 37-year-old Parkinson said.
Matt Wilkinson enjoyed a round of golf, sharing the Margaret River Golf Course fairway with some bouncing kangaroos.
Many surfers have taken to the water while waiting for the competition to start.
Gabriel Medina was spotted getting some great air at North Point, Joel Parkinson got barrelled at The Box, same with Sebastien Zietz who was also spotted at North Point.
Surfing WA Event Director Justin Majeks said that the region’s offerings are what make the Margaret River Pro a favourite stop on the WSL CT.
“It’s great to see the athletes and crews get out and about and enjoy the Margaret River region,” Majeks said.
Majeks has also lead some behind-the-scenes tours for surf academy students from Margaret River Senior High, Cape Naturaliste College and John Tonkin College in Mandurah.
Day three of the event window has been was ON HOLD until 1.10pm today with an all-WA surf off taking place at North Point.
Yesterday WSL CT surfer Caio Ibelli broke his foot in a free surf and has, unfortunately, had to withdraw from the Margaret River Pro.
In an interesting twist, Ibelli's replacement will not come from the WSL Qualifying Series ranks, instead, the two surfers who placed equal-third in the Drug Aware WA Trials - Jack Robinson and Jerome Forrest, both from Margaret River - will battle for the spot in a 25-minute surf-off, which will run on the WSL broadcast before Round 1 begins.
This now brings a total of five WA surfers in the Margaret River Pro:
- Bronte Macaulay (WSL CT)
- Mikaela Green - winner of women's Drug Aware WA Trials
- Dave Delroy-Carr - winner of men's Drug Aware WA Trials
- Kael Walsh - runner up of men's Drug Aware WA Trials - read media release here
- Winner of the surf off today Jack Robinson v Jerome Forrest
The State Government is a proud supporter of the event through Tourism WA's Regional Events Program.
Margaret River Pro:
- 11 to 22 April 2018
- Surfers Point, Prevelly, Margaret River
- World’s top 34 male (plus two wild cards) surf athletes and 17 female (plus one wild card) surf athletes will compete
- WA Trials was only open to West Australian surfers; the winners earning a place to compete in the Margaret River Pro as a wild card entry