South West surfing identities have hailed the decision to approve the use of the North Point surf break in the 2018 Margaret River Pro as a positive outcome for the sport and the region.
The decision was made last week during a packed council meeting in Cowaramup attended by many on either side of the debate to allow the competition to continue at the location.
“Council can see that Surfing WA and World Surf League are committed to responsible management and are consulting closely with environmental groups,” said Shire President Pam Townshend. “If surfing conditions warrant use of North Point during this year’s competition, we are confident traffic flows, parking and management of our precious heathland will be well taken care of.”
The use of the Gracetown break will be permitted for a maximum of two days, and Surfing WA CEO Mark Lane said organisers had listened to community concerns over environmental impacts.
“Throughout the process we listened to valid concerns, mostly centred around the immediate area and environment, and we genuinely want to have a positive impact and help to make it better than we found it,” he said.
“We already have an excellent track record in our post-event clean ups, as well as minimal impact set up at places like the Box and North Point.
“We’ll work with local groups and the required authorities to plan and implement some environmental improvements.”
Former WCT surfer Dave Macaulay said it was important for the event to develop with time.
“I’ve watched the Pro go from a small event to Championship Tour status, largely due to innovation of Surfing WA and support from the surfing community.
“The Pro has set the benchmark for events that are now followed around the world - one of them is to offer more than one break.”
Bronte Macaulay echoed those sentiments.
“Wave quality is at the very top of the CT event components and North Point has wave quality in spades. I believe the inclusion is critical to the longevity of this wonderful event,” she said.
Margaret River surfer Jacob Willcox said he was impressed by the care taken by officials last year.
“If it’s big and North Point was going off, then I think surfers would prefer to surf there – it’s a different type of wave, a heaving right barrel, whereas Mainbreak is just big,” he said.
“Last year they were really strict about keeping people off the dunes, which I was happy to see.”