All systems go for Pro

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

It is full steam ahead for this weekend’s Margaret River Pro despite some last-minute panic caused by the COVID-19 lockdown in Perth.

Athletes and support staff flew into the region on Tuesday, causing a stir with their chartered A330, the biggest plane ever to land at Busselton Airport and a possible sign of things to come.

The world’s top male and female surfers were ferried to three secure accommodation sites in Margaret River and Gnarabup which feature in the Surfing WA and World Surf League emergency quarantine plan in case of another breakout.

The local wildcard trials produced three extra WA con-tenders who will join Jack Robinson and Bronte Macaulay representing the State when the formal competition starts on Sunday.

Surfers Point, the Box and North Point are all options for this year’s competition, and forecasts for the first week-end were promising. Online surf commentators also anticipated two streaks of stormy weather could contribute to significant swells for the competition which will see the Pro athletes tested in far more rugged conditions than they encountered at Newcastle and Narrabeen.

Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane told the Times the incoming competitors were in good spirits and on Wednesday were awaiting delivery of their boards transported separately by truck.

Despite last weekend’s COVID-19 flutters, the SWA boss said plans were in place for all contingencies and the Margaret River and also Rottnest surf contests were safe.

“It potentially affected us, but it didn’t,” he said.

“We had several plans in place for all of these scenarios, but when the Premier said we go into masks now, that allows us to go back to Plan A.”

Mr Lane said online chatter about risks for the first-time Rottnest Island event were wrong. “The athletes would have been here for more than a fortnight (by that time), so they will just be treated as South West residents,” he said. Some spectator restrictions would apply this week because of the 2sqm rule, but more than 2000 on-lookers could attend Surfers Point.

The full festival atmosphere would also extend to the Margaret River Youth Precinct with the Healthy Habitz program in place after school all week.

While one-eyed locals would barrack for the five Margaret River competitors, the WSL’s Brazilian contingent fared well over east.

Likewise, leading surfer Carissa Moore was expected to carry her good form into Margaret River where she won in 2013 and 2014.

Others like Tyler Wright and Courtney Conlogue were also surfing strong.

Some of the leading men were off their game in NSW, raising questions about how past winner John John Florence and colleagues Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson would fare.

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