Slater lands in Margaret River, one year after two surfers were attacked hours apart almost forcing the permanent cancellation of the prestigious event.
In this, the fourth episode of the eleven-part docuseries Kelly Slater: Lost Tapes, which follows its master’s travails on the 2019 tour, we land in Margaret River, an area noted for its Great White attacks.
The year before, two hits on surfers by Great Whites a click or so from the contest there soured world champs 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.”
Italo wrote, “Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, just a few miles from where the event is being held. 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!”
(In 2020, a surfer in his twenties would be hit by a “fifteen-foot” Great White shark at Bunker Bay, an awesomely pretty crescent of white sand and green water almost at the tip of Cape Naturaliste, a little north of Margaret River.)
Anyway, Slater’s in Margaret River, is smoked by John John and Jaddy in his first heat, fires up to levels hitherto unseen, at least in recent years, to win the next two rounds, but loses to giant-killer Caio Ibelli.
After belting his head a couple of times on the plastic wind protector of his rental car, drawing blood, he jokes about the blood in the water and sharks.
“It’s so sharky we’re not allowed to even talk about it or the WSL gets mad at us!”
Slater throws a piece of bloodied skin at the water.
“There’s some skin for ya,” he says.