Call to back Margs for Pro

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Brad Farmer.
Camera IconBrad Farmer.

Surfrider Foundation originator and National Surfing Reserves chairman Brad Farmer says the region’s tourism association should be at the forefront pushing to retain the Margaret River Pro.

Mr Farmer made headlines last week, lifting the lid on Kalbarri’s community opposition to a contentious — and some say unworkable — plan to hoist the Pro up north as a lifeline for the World Surf League championship tour event remaining in WA.

He told the Times the WSL and Tourism WA had to respect surfers’ “sacred and spiritual” connection to home breaks, and he was incensed Tourism WA continued to advocate for the Kalbarri event despite community blowback.

“They are away with the pixies,” Mr Farmer said. “And I find it rather strange the MRBTA is not fighting tooth and nail to keep it here.”

Responding to inquiries, Tourism WA declined detailed answers about its ongoing push, citing commercial confidentiality.

“We are in early talks with Surfing WA and WSL about future years,” a spokeswoman said.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association marketing director Sharna Kearney said the association saw the Pro as “critically important” to the region’s tourism economy.

“Members have expressed their concern about the potential loss of the event, and MRBTA will continue to advocate to retain the event,” she said.

Asked what specific action MRBTA was taking, Ms Kearney said: “There are a number of parties involved in bringing the Pro to the region and MRBTA has communicated the keenness of the region to retain the event.”

Government-funded infrastructure was in place to retain the Pro into the future and “it would be very disappointing for these investments not to be realised past the 2019 event,” Ms Kearney said.

Surfing WA events manager Justin Majeks was similarly light on detail.

“There is a contract in place to hold a World Champion Tour event in Margaret River in 2019, and to date there has been no indication from WSL that this will not proceed,” he said.

“Discussions are currently taking place with WSL and the WA Government with regards to retaining a WCT event in WA in 2020 and beyond, but these are only key stakeholder discussions at this point in time.”

Mr Farmer said if the WSL was looking for a dominant left-hand break, Margaret River’s coastline was “a smorgasbord” and the region should retain the Pro.

Veteran surfers in the region were split on retaining the Pro.

Kalbarri Boardriders Club has vowed to fight the local WSL plan.

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