Dirk Ziff Saves Margaret River Pro!
"It didn't have a pulse!"
I’m not sure what your feelings are about the Margaret River Pro, one of the few events on tour underwritten by a major sponsor.
I thought it was insane to drag the best surfers in the world across Australia to surf a B-grade peak, even with the promise of North Point or The Box if the gods were to gift an agreeable confluence of wind and swell.
From the pale turquoise fluff of Snapper to the wiggles and whorls of Margarets to the garbage of Bells. It wasn’t much of a way to start a tour.
But then John John got to it, snowboarding the imperfect faces on one of his Pyzel Ghosts and…yeah… maybe Margaret River was worth something. Filipe Toledo, too, impatient, salacious, beautiful to watch.
New approaches, new angles. Right surfers, right boards.
Best event on the Australian slice? Yeah it is, was.
Did you know that it was going to be axed, the Australian tour reduced to two events, Snapper and Bells? And that it was Paul Speaker leaving the WSL and the intervention of the WSL’s owner Dirk Ziff that saved the event?
THE organisers of WA’s premier surfing event have admitted the contest was to be axed from next year until a last-minute intervention from the owner of the sport’s global governing body.
Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane revealed on Friday that the Margaret River Pro “didn’t have a pulse” last year when the event’s place on the elite world tour from 2018 came up for negotiation with the World Surf League.
But it has emerged that a change of management at the top of the WSL – billionaire owner Dirk Ziff replaced former boss Paul Speaker – spared Margaret River from the chop.
Mr Lane joined by Tourism Minister Paul Papalia on Friday to confirm the Margaret River Pro would stay on the World Championship Tour until at least 2019 after the WSL agreed to renew its contract for another two years.
Under the multimillion-dollar deal, which is being largely funded by Tourism WA, the contract for the Pro will be extended at least two years, with the option of a further extension.
Mr Lane said the agreement almost never happened after the WSL earmarked Margaret River as the event to be axed from Australia rather than the Gold Coast of Bells Beach in Victoria – both longstanding events.
“It didn’t actually have a pulse at all,” Mr Lane said.
I’m thrilled, and florid faced over the news.