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!”

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!

Second shark attack at Margaret River!

Hours after a Great White attack at Cobblestones, a surfer is hit by a White at nearby Lefthanders… 

I doubt if it’s a stretch to call today’s twin attacks by Great Whites in Margaret River unprecedented. Five or so hours after Argentinian surfer Alejandro Travaglini was airlifted from Cobblestones, a reef peak near the site of the Margaret River Pro, after being hit by a four-metre Great White, another surfer was been hit by a White, this time at Lefthanders.

That name ring a bell? It’s the same joint Brad Smith was surfing in 2004 when he was hit by a pair of Great Whites.

If you want a timeline of fatal shark attacks in the area, click here.

Denmark (WA) surfer Jason Longgrass, who is 41, reckoned he was “having a ball” at the beach, which was closed because of the earlier shark attack, when the Great White, estimated at four-metres long, hit his board. Hard to blame him for being out. It was a classic south-west afternoon: offshore easterly winds, a four-to-six-foot swell, air temps scratching the high-twenties.

“It was bee-lining straight at me, I went to slap the water and by then he made a sudden acceleration and then just nailed the board,” Longrass told reporters. “I don’t normally surf the place but it was uncrowded. I didn’t know why. I heard there was a shark around and I thought, yes, there are sharks in the ocean, kept surfing and the boat’s calling everyone in and I hung out there for a little longer than everyone else and…whammo…”

Longgrass’ minor leg wounds were treated at the scene by paramedics.

A few more details have come through about the earlier attack.

Brett Newland told ABC News: 

“It swam under a couple of guys and came around and bit a third person… It was a large shark and from the way it was behaving, it would have been a white pointer. All the other surfers swam to him, helped him get away from his board and leg rope and helped him get on a wave, and luckily [he] caught a wave onto the reef. The surfers that helped him in got tourniquets on his legs as soon as they got on the shallow reef, and then other people came down from the carpark and put him onto a surfboard and carried him up to the carpark.”

Despite the twin attacks, it ain’t entirely surprising. There’s a ton of people in the water. The Western Australian Salmon, which can hit nine kilos, and is a favourite of sharks, are spawning and, for whatever reasons, the coastline is dotted with beached pilot whales, including one at Lefthanders.

Yeah, there's vineyards and gorgeous houses to rent and beautiful clean water and waves galore but…sharks too. Big fellas. | Photo: WSL

Shark Attack Puts Margaret River Pro on hold!

Argentinian surfer hit by shark at nearby Cobblestones… 

An Argentinian surfer has been flown to Perth from Margaret River after a shark attack two hours ago at Cobblestones, a hollow reef peak near Margaret River. The man, in his thirties, was reported by paramedics to be “conscious and breathing.”

Friends of the man used leg-ropes to stanch leg wounds.

The surf photographer Peter Jovic, who saw the attack, told the ABC, “There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on. [I] saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from the [surf] board and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in. They got him to shore and started working on him to stem the bleeding.”

The WSL responded by suspending competition.

“The World Surf League (WSL) has been alerted to a shark incident that occurred near Gracetown. The safety of our surfers and staff is a top priority for the WSL. We have mitigation protocols in place and will be enhancing those when competition resumes.”

The, ah, women will resume round two when the contest restarts at 10:40, local time with “further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence.”

In 2004, Brad Smith, who was 24, was killed by a shark while surfing at the nearby reef, Lefthanders.

In 2010, Nick Edwards, who was 31, was killed by a shark while surfing South Point, across the Bay from yesterday’s competition at North Point.

In 2011, the bodyboarder Kyle Burden, who was 21, was killed at Bunker Bay, a short drive around the Cape.

In 2013, Chris Boyd, who was 35, was killed by a shark while surfing at Umbies, near Cobblestones.

Meanwhile, Hamelin Bay, which is fifty clicks down the road remains closed after a mass whale beaching resulted in the deaths of more than 140 short finned pilot whales.

“There were concerns over the weekend that the carcasses could attract sharks,” reported the Guardian Express.

All-American good looks don't seem to stretch as far these days...
All-American good looks don't seem to stretch as far these days...

Judging: Is there an anti-American bias?

The tour is in Australia (still) with an almost all-Australian judging panel!

Are you caught in the rapture of this third event on tour, the Margaret River Pro, with its baffling fails and swamps of mediocrity? Is your favorite surfer still swinging for the fences with a chance to take it all home or is your favorite surfer an American and possibly being ruled against by the judges based solely on his nationality?

Oh I’m not suggesting or even hinting that there is bias in the judging tower but it was brought to my attention that the only American judge on the this leg either had to go home from Western Australia or was never there in the first place leaving only Australian judges with a sprinkle of Brazilian judge too.

Now, I believe that these fine men check their flags at the door and only see shades of 7.8 and 6.3 once seated in their cubicles but did Australia’s Connor O’Leary really beat America’s Patrick Gudauskas in Round 2 Heat 10?

Patrick was looking very fierce on this forehand while Connor shucked and jived backside. Sometimes, I believe, picking between a solid front hand and a decent back hand is like picking between apples and oranges and maybe the judges had this problem too but how did Connor shake out as the winner? I’ve watched the heat now three full times and I don’t see it. Patrick looks slightly better each and every time. He looks like the better professional surfer.

Is this my own bias showing through? Oh I hope not. I think of myself as a man of the world, an inspiration to peoples from Cairo to Coolangatta, but maybe… maybe there’s a touch of jingoistic pride buried in there? A blind spot?


But look at Patrick Gudauskas. Watch him surf and watch Australian Connor O’Leary surf and tell me who won. Of course Connor O’Leary won but tell me who won won.