Margaret River surfer Willow Hardy subject to attack by Erica White at El Salvador Junior Surf Championships

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Willow Hardy surfing at the World Junior Surfing Championships.
Camera IconWillow Hardy surfing at the World Junior Surfing Championships. Credit: Jersson Barboza

Margaret River’s Willow Hardy has faced verbal abuse and interference while representing Australia at the World Junior Surfing Championships in El Salvador.

The eyes of the world were on the young Margaret River surfer in the final minute of her heat against Portugal’s Erica Maximo White when the other surfer heckled and then tried to pull Hardy from her board.

The unsporting effort was to thwart Hardy’s chance to nab an easy 2.4 final ride score to push through as the heat’s winner.

Hardy had favoured wave status and White’s conduct drew an immediate formal complaint from Australian team coach Pete Duncan.

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“While there is a tactical element to competitive surfing, there is no place for unsporting conduct,” he said.

“We are incredibly proud of the way Willow remained composed in what was an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.”

White’s much-pilloried effort also failed to dent Hardy’s focus that saw her praised by Irukandji teammates and commentators.

Despite grabbing Hardy’s leg rope, Hardy clipped through on a final wave, contributing to the Australian team’s lauded medal haul from the contest at Surf City.

White was disqualified from the event after the incident.

Hardy was still travelling back from the championships when the Times sought comment via her father Gene.

Friends of the junior told the Times they were proud of the 17-year-old and celebrated her “keeping her head” in the encounter with White.

White later took to Instagram to apologise for her behaviour.

“I committed an interference on the Australian surfer’s wave in an unsportsmanlike manner,” she said.

“I just wanted to help my team, but I recognise my mistake and I am here to apologise to the Australian surfer, the Australian team and the ISA.

“I wanted to record this video to make my case an example for other athletes.”

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