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Surfers fight for Pro

Declan BushAugusta Margaret River Times
WCT surfers Tyler Wright and Bronte Macaulay on the eve of the 2017 Margaret River Pro.
Camera IconWCT surfers Tyler Wright and Bronte Macaulay on the eve of the 2017 Margaret River Pro. Credit: Declan Bush

World Championship Tour surfers have backed keeping the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in the World Surf League’s top contest despite persistent doubts about its future.

On Tuesday, professional surfers told the Times they would be disappointed if the WSL dropped the Pro to a Qualifying Series event, amid long-running rumours an Australian event could be axed when contracts end this year.

Despite recent crisis talks and a significant undisclosed annual fee contributed by WA taxpayers, the Margaret River event — as the newest addition to the world tour — was also earmarked to be cut in favour of contests at Snapper Rocks and Bells.

Surfers said the good choice of waves was grounds for keeping Margaret River’s WCT status, highlighted this week by the inclusion of North Point as well as the option of waves at The Box.

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Six-times world champion Stephanie Gilmore said Margaret River was “an incredible place”.

“There’s world-class waves everywhere you look,” she said.

“For the surfers and for the fans, it’s really shown to us that this event should be on the world tour.

“It deserves a spot.”

Last year’s Pro winner Sebastian Zietz said Margaret River got more swells than the other Australian tour legs.

“I think Margaret’s Mainbreak is a lot different than any other wave there is, especially now that they have The Box and North Point going on,” he said.

“I’m not sure how much longer until they make the decision about what contest to drop, but if they can run it more so at The Box and North Point, I think that’ll have a big influence in keeping it on tour.”

Gracetown local and World Tour debutante Bronte Macaulay said she would be “pretty gutted” if the Margaret River Pro lost its WCT crown.

“For me, it’s one of the most special events of the year,” she said.

“They do a really good job of it and they get a great crowd, it really boosts tourism in the region. I think they shouldn’t be complaining at all, because some of the events are in mediocre beach breaks in Europe, Brazil and stuff.

“I think if this event goes really good, especially (on Wednesday), then it might change it.”

Last year’s Margaret River women’s champion Tyler Wright said each wave had its own quality.

“Margaret River presents a very raw and very much different field from every other event,” she said.

“It has a lot of different elements we have to deal with within 30 minutes.”

Last week, Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane said authorities were doing all they could to persuade the WSL to keep the Pro in the WCT.

Last year, the Times reported surfers believed the taxpayer funding and the visitor experience for World Tour surfers would argue a strong case for Margaret River’s retention.

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