Champion Margaret River surfer Jacob Willcox is preparing for what he described as a ‘battle with the ocean’ ahead of the inaugural Mandurah Pro event this weekend.
The 21-year-old will be one of a handful of pro surfers hitting the Peel region’s breaks for the World Surfing League (WSL) Qualifying Series showdown, returning to Mandurah’s waters for the first time since he competed in a grommets event at the age of 12.
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But while he expects the first ever WA Pro Surf Series round to be hotly contested, Willcox said he’d simply be looking for the cleanest wave to guide him as he eyes off a victory.
“You know what you get [from the opposing surfers], most of them are national or even international talents so you know they’re going to be good,” he said.
“But I think the main battle is with the ocean, looking for the best waves.
“If you can get those clean rides then the rest takes care of itself.”
It’s been a while since the gun from down south took on the breaks at Mandurah, but he’s confident a few days in the water before the event can help him find a rhythm.
“I don’t actually surf there very often at all, so that’s going to make things pretty interesting,” he said.
“But I think it’s just off the beach and I’ve surfed plenty of those in my time so hopefully that bodes well for me.
“I’ll come down a few days before and get some sessions in just to get used to it all.”
Willcox is no stranger to WSL qualifying series events.
The goofy-footer travels the world to compete, most recently having returned from a two-month stint in Europe and the US, but the prestige of surfing the first WA Pro Surf Series in his home state wasn’t lost on him.
“It’s definitely a bit different from having to hit up other countries, but yeah, I’m looking forward to being part of the first one for sure,” he said.
“Really I think it’d just be cool to see an Aussie get a win. When you compete at events like this you always kind of want the winner to be an Aussie.”
The Mandurah Pro will also offer young local surfers the chance to mix it with the best, which Willcox said is a huge boost for their future aspirations.
“As a kid it’s massive to be surfing in these events next to some seriously talented people,” he said.
“That’s one thing that’s pretty cool about it all, giving those younger guys coming through the chance to show off their skills.”
The event will play out from October 13-16 and forms half of the brand new WA Pro Surf Series, with Yallingup set to play host to the second event (the Cape Naturaliste Pro) the following week.