A couple of days off at the start of the 2018 Margaret River Pro gave some of the world’s best surfers the chance to experience the best of the South West, with plenty sharing their adventures to the world via social meda.
With the first two days called off due to unfavourable conditions, Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Nikki Van Dijk and Coco Ho headed to Rottnest to secure WA’s most popular souvenir – a quokka selfie.
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.
“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.
They're actually pretty cute but Coco was terrified. She was looking at it like it was a giant killing machine. Typical Coco.Stephanie Gilmore
Despite Coco Ho’s apparent fear of the cute quokkas, she managed to get one of the best selfies of the day.
“Being on bikes and cruising around the whole island was my highlight,” said sally 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, football and of course, the surf.
St Thomas More Primary School student Oscar Home 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 captured getting some great air at North Point, Joel Parkinson got barrelled at The Box, and Sebastien Zietz 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 led some behind-the-scenes tours for surf academy students from Margaret River Senior High, Cape Naturaliste College and John Tonkin College in Mandurah.