Margaret River Pro shifts to May for 2019 event

Gracetown surfer Bronte Macaulay on the WSL tour. Photo: WSL/Dunbar
Gracetown surfer Bronte Macaulay on the WSL tour. Photo: WSL/Dunbar

The Margaret River Pro in 2019 is shifting from its regular tour dates in April, to May 27 to June 7 and will form part of the Indian Ocean leg of the tour.

After the the Bells Beach event in Victoria, rather than heading to the South West, the pros will travel to Bali from May 13 to 24 before coming back to Australia for the Margaret River leg.

After Margaret River, the surf league will hit Oi Rio before heading back to J-Bay from July 9 to 22.

Surfing WA events manager Justin Majeks said the whole tour had moved back a month which was great for the Margaret River event because bigger swells should be rolling through.

“The Indian Ocean leg – Bali, Margaret River and J-Bay – will be the most exciting leg of the tour,” he said.

With the Margaret River Pro secured for 2019, Mr Majeks said all the talks were now looking at 2020 and beyond.

This year, the Margaret River Pro was cut short due to safety concerns after whale carcasses had attracted increased shark numbers.

While the event was being held, two local surfers were attacked by sharks in two separate incidents on the same day at nearby Gracetown.

Event organisers called off the pro after Brazilian surfers Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira said they did not feel safe competing in Margaret River.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam welcomed the change of dates which would coincide with the region’s first big swells and clean conditions.

Ms Mettam said, however, the government needed to have a clear shark mitigation strategy ahead of next year’s event to avoid a repeat of what happened.

“More needs to be done around managing whale carcasses by having them removed as soon as possible,” she said.

“There is currently a whale carcass at Indjidup which needs to be shifted.”

Ms Mettam said with former Association of Surfing Professionals chief executive officer Brodie Carr as the new Tourism WA managing director, she hoped the government would better understand the importance of shark mitigation to surfing.