From the WSL: "Current circumstances are very unusual and troubling, and we have decided that the elevated risk during this season’s Margaret River Pro has crossed the threshold for what is acceptable."

Breaking: Margaret River Pro cancelled!

See y'later WA and thanks for the laughs… 

Well, how about that?

After yesterday’s twin Great White attacks, and with beaches still closed around Margaret River, the WSL has cancelled the Margaret River Pro.

“The WSL has made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of the Margaret River Pro, as a result of exceptional circumstances surrounding this season’s event regarding sharks and the safety of our surfers. This decision has been reached after many hours of consultation with a variety of stakeholders and experts.

“The WSL puts the highest premium on safety. This cannot be just talk, and it cannot be compromised. Surfing is a sport that carries various forms of risk, and is unique in that wild animals inhabit our performance environment. Sharks are an occasional reality of WSL competitions, and of surfing in general. Everyone associated with our sport knows that. There have been incidents in the past – and it’s possible that there will be incidents in the future – which did not (and will not) result in the cancellation of an event. However, current circumstances are very unusual and troubling, and we have decided that the elevated risk during this season’s Margaret River Pro has crossed the threshold for what is acceptable.”

In a press release from the company’s CEO Sophie Goldschmidt:

On April 16th (local time), two separate shark attacks occurred at nearby Gracetown – approximately 6 kilometers away from the primary event site at Main Break. The presence of beached whales in the area has attracted sharks and contributed to the aggression of their behavior, which, experts agree, has increased the possibility of further attacks. These findings have resulted in nearby locations being closed to surfing and swimming.

We are committed to being as prepared as possible for what nature throws at us. The WSL maintains strong and constantly-improving safety, monitoring and support infrastructure and protocols, and we would normally have a high degree of confidence in our ability to protect our athletes. However, the threshold has been crossed for the organization and if we decided to continue the event under the current circumstances, and something terrible were to take place, we would never forgive ourselves.

We are painfully aware that this decision will have commercial ramifications for the local community, and will disappoint some of our partners, fans and athletes. We sincerely regret that.

Our competitive structure allows for points distribution in the event of a cancellation. However, we are not giving up yet on somehow completing both men’s and women’s competition this year, and will communicate our thoughts on that when we know more.

Margaret River is a special venue, with incredible partners. It has produced many memorable moments over the years, and at the moment we have no plans not to return in the future.

We appreciate that not everyone will agree with this decision, but hope that they will respect it. Athlete safety will always be our absolute priority and we thank the local community, our partners and our surfers for supporting the decision.

Thank you for your understanding,
Sophie Goldschmidt
WSL CEO

As for points, an event re-run etc.

“The cancellation of the Margaret River Pro will see points distributed per the WSL rulebook, but organizers have not ruled out potentially completing the events elsewhere during the season.”


shark attack
"He's gone!" Western Australian Jason Longgrass, 41, hit by Great White at Lefthanders, near North Point.

Watch: Footage of yesterday’s Great White attack!

"Oh my god! Holy fuck! He's gone!"

Ever wondered what it would look like if a pal was hit by a Great White? Well, here’s a little poem of the sea – just-released phone footage of yesterday’s second Great White attack near Margaret River.

It isn’t entirely pleasant viewing, although the surfer, Jason Longgrass’s survival, lack of substantial wounds and excellent post-attack interview do lighten the mood.

“Shark! Oh my god… holy fuck!… he’s gone…” says one spectator before, “No he’s swimming, he’s swimming, come on mate chopper’s coming back. Chopper’s coming back.”

Watch here!


Pretty animals, pilot whales…  | Photo: Gian De Poloni/ABC News

RIP: Dead Whale Removed From Lefthanders!

Dead pilot whale towed off the site of yesterday's (second) Great White attack… 

The holy trinity of contest crowds, the year’s annual salmon run and dead whales littered everywhere sure did create a vibrant environment for sharks around Margaret River. Two hits on surfers by Great Whites in one day, neither fatal.

There was a little chatter, yesterday, about why the State’s Department of Fisheries hadn’t removed that damn wounded pilot whale which had swam through the Lefties lineup, beached itself and died. I pointed out that Lefties ain’t the easiest joint to get to and putting a boat close enough to shore to attach ropes to the dead leviathan wasn’t as easy as it sounded.

Well, they did it. Whale gone. Towed off the beach, taken to Gracetown (where, in between North and South Points there’s a boat ramp) loaded onto a trucked and disappeared. Not surprisingly, two Tiger sharks (remember those?) and a Great White followed the boat back around the corner, and past the seal colony, and into Cowaramup Bay.

Beaches remain closed until six pm, local time, although the closure might be extended.

  • A Regulation 44 closure notice remains in place for the Gracetown area between North Point and Ellensbrook. This means beaches and waters up to two kilometres out to sea cannot be used by divers, surfers and swimmers. In addition, Fisheries has advised additional caution between Kilcarnup and North Point. 

Now, here’s a question.

If you…knew… how many ten-foot-plus Great Whites were around, whether in WA or maybe around your neck o’ the woods, would you accept the odds and still surf?

Go to the Shark Smart website, jump into the shark activity part, and check out what’s been seen or detected in the last week.

Oh, it’s anything but seductive.

A ten-foot White thirty-feet off the beach at Injidup (remember those Cyclone Marcus rights? Yeah, there.) An eight-footer at Gas Bay.

Etc.

And etc.

The WSL will meet at eight am today, local time, to determine whether or not anymore saliva will be sucked out of the event or, as per the wishes of Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira, they’ll beat a very quick retreat. 


Italo, thrilled to be in Margaret River's thriving ecosystem.

Gabriel Medina: “I don’t feel safe in this kind of place!”

Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina thrilled to be in Margaret River's thriving ecosystem.

Yesterday’s two hits on surfers by Great Whites a click or so from the contest there sure did sour Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira’s Margaret River experience.

Gabriel told his six million followers on Instagram, “Today they had two shark attacks on a beach close to where we’re competing. I do not feel safe training and competing in this kind of place, anytime anything can happen to one of us. Hope not. Leaving my opinion before it’s too late!”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BhopCWPF1EC/?hl=en&taken-by=gabrielmedina

Italo, who is the current equal world number one and Bells winner, helpfully posted one of those shark sighting maps. It ain’t for the squeamish.

“Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, detail, just a few miles from where the event is being held,” wrote Italo. “Very dangerous do you not think? even so, they keep insisting on doing steps where the risk of having this type of accident is 90%, so I ask: is not the safety of athletes a priority? We already had several alerts. Life goes beyond that! I hope it does not happen to any of us. I do not feel comfortable training and competing in places like this!”

Are Italo and Gabriel right? Should the tour pack up its bunting and Joe and the gang and leave?

How do the locals feel about it? Are the two attacks really unprecedented? Is it unsafe to dive into those azure waters and bask in the poem of the sea?

Jay Davies, who is thirty-one years old and has lived in Yallingup all of his life and who two weeks ago was being lit up by eight-foot shorebreak tubes (“I saw fifty sharks that day, the water must’ve been stirred up”), says that “big sharks are sighted every day. It’s not different, just a bit of a bummer two guys got a little bit chomped yesterday. But, you know, it’s salmon season. There’s a lot of fish running around and there’s definitely big sharks feeding around ’em. It’s sketchy, but it’s the natural thing around here.”

The timing of the WSL event, says Jay, is a little odd, howevs. “It’s pretty funny the WSL puts the contest on in this time frame and then they freak out that there’s all this activity. Everyone thinks it happens all-year long but salmon season plays a big part of it.”

Jay says there’s definitely more sharks around than when he was a kid (“We weren’t hearing about thousands of sharks being sighted every day”) although it hasn’t changed his behaviour.

“It was in the back of my mind yesterday, I was surfing with one other person not too far from the stretch where people got attacked, but I didn’t let it phase me.”

A lot of the WSL guys come here and fucking hammer Cobblestones all day long so I actually can’t believe it’s the first attack there. JAY DAVIES

That said, he ain’t in a hurry to surf Cobblestones again.

“There’s that one little stretch with five different breaks and the last three fatal attacks have all been in that area. There’s a seal colony at the end of South Point, about six hundred metres from Umbies and Cobblestones, so you’re really dancing with danger. A lot of the WSL guys come here and fucking hammer Cobblestones all day long so I actually can’t believe it’s the first attack there. I don’t surf there much. I get really spooked. It’s really deep water and it feels like a bit of a shark highway. The wave is fun, it gives you a great ramp and it has a lot of power, but you’re usually trying to find someone to surf with. Jack Robbo is always trying to find someone else to hit the ramps with him.”

The former pro surfer turned real estate agent, Mitch Thorson, is philosophical about the threat, however real, of attack.

“That’s our deal. Not a day goes by without a story about how someone was surfing somewhere and a mini-sub cruised by. But you either give up surfing or you go surfing and know they’re out there. That’s our deal. That’s our reality.”


"Large three story ocean front home..." the advertisement reads.
"Large three story ocean front home..." the advertisement reads.

Stay: The famed Volcom Pipeline house!

A price so amazing you'll be shocked!

Great value is a wonderful gem in this world and very rare. It feels that, at least most the time, when something is very inexpensive then it is also junky. Conversely, if something is well-made/well-thought/filled with quality then it costs a lot of money. But there are times when inexpensive and quality unite and these are moments to remember.

Like right today. Volcom is renting its Pipeline front Gerry House for you and/or your friends to stay/sleep/party. Travel + Leisure magazine breaks down the square feets and let us read together.

On a recent trip to Hawaii for the Volcom Pipe Pro, we got to check out the house firsthand. It was packed to the gills with professional surfers, but sorry everyone, they don’t come included.

Instead, visitors looking to book will find an expansive first floor with floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that open up straight to the sand. The open kitchen and large dining area make it the perfect spot for a sit-down dinner for 14 as the sound of the waves crash outside and the cool ocean breeze flows in.

Walk up the short flight of stairs and you’ll be on the home’s second floor. There, you’ll find two bedrooms, both of which open up to decks that once again provide brilliant views of Pipeline. Each bedroom also comes complete with its own bathroom.

On the home’s third floor you’ll find two master suites that each come with private bathrooms as well. Again, both bedrooms open up to a large deck. This deck, however, provides the most expansive views of the beach as you’re perched at the highest point in the home.

Beyond providing visitors with the coolest place to lay their heads at night, the home also comes complete with all the accoutrements you’d need to have an epic beach vacation including coolers, beach toys, chairs, umbrellas, and body boards.

It certainly does sound fantastic, though I don’t why the writer is apologizing to potential guests that the professional surfers don’t come included. It sounds fantastic and expensive. But guess how much it costs?

Really guess.

Ok now I’ll tell you. Sleeping for one night in the phantasmic energy of Bruce Irons and Gav Beschen costs……

…$1000 per night!

So inexpensive I can hardly take it. For the math-challenged this means you could stay with those 13 other people sitting around the perfecto spot for a sit-down dinner for $71 dollars a night per.

The last great good deal. Rent here!