The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the third stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, is set to kick off with a competitive window of April 8 – 19, 2016.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS) will charge into this event after back-to-back wins on the Gold Coast and at Bells Beach. The Australian powerhouse hopes to continue his winning streak at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro to strengthen his 2016 World Title campaign. Wilkinson will face injury replacement Stuart Kennedy (AUS) and Dusty Payne (HAW) in Round 1 Heat 3 when competition gets underway.
“This has got to be one of the best stretches of coast in the world,” Wilkinson said. “I am hopefully going to win every heat that I surf in. I feel like I could easily put pressure on myself and end up surfing defensively or go into Round 1 trying to win the competition in my mind, and I think I need to put that out of my head and treat every thirty minutes individually. I have to take it step-by-step and see how I go.”
Conner Coffin (USA), 2016 WSL rookie and current World No. 2, has found great success thus far on the Championship Tour. With strong finishes at both stops on the Australian leg, Coffin will push to better his previous finishes on the third stop of the CT. Coffin will surf against fellow rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS) and CT veteran Joel Parkinson (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 9.
“It is pretty surreal because in the moment you are going and not thinking about anything else, you are just catching waves and doing turns, but all of a sudden you are making heats,” Coffin said. “In my head I am never thinking about a specific result, it is really just going out in each heat and dialing in the right waves and surfing my best.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA) will don the coveted yellow Jeep WSL Leader Jerseys throughout the event after clinching a major victory at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. The Californian will battle to maintain her standing as World No. 1 and defend her event Title. Round 1 will see Conlogue face Alessa Quizon (HAW) and Trails Winner, Felicity Palmateer (AUS).
“This is one of my favorite stops on tour and being here in Western Australia has a home feel, but then you also have this big wave vibe,” Conlogue said. “I love this location and the conditions are incredible. It is either beautiful offshore or crazy, wild, woolly weather. I think my confidence is the same as how it has been all season. I learned a lot last season with the end result and with that I have nothing to lose right now, I only have things to gain.”
Tyler Wright (AUS), current World No. 2, will fight to reclaim her lead atop the Jeep Leaderboard. Wright faced a Quarterfinal loss against Conlogue at Bells Beach, but is eager for another victory. Wright will compete against Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW) in Round 1.
“The way the women’s tour is going is becoming less predictable,” said Wright. “You get in heats where you do not expect something and then all of a sudden your mind is blown. It is super inspiring to be a part of the women’s tour right now.”
Carissa Moore (HAW), three-time World Champion and previous event winner, comes into this event with laser focus and her eye on the Jeep WSL Leader Jersey. Moore will meet Sage Erickson (USA) and Laura Enever (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 4.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), six-time World Champion, continues to threaten the competition as she looks fitter and feistier than ever. Knocking out major players in the last two events, Gilmore will battle to break through to the Semifinals for the first time this year. Round 1 will witness a throwdown between Gilmore, Johanne Defay (FRA) and injury replacement Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Heat 6.
Today’s Local Trials were won by Jacob Willcox (AUS) and Felicity Palmateer (AUS). The young Australians will face the WSL top seeds when competition commences.
Event organizers will convene tomorrow at 7:30am local time for a possible 8am start.
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.
The Surfline forecast is calling for:
A series of medium size SW/SSW swells look possible during the first week+ of the waiting period along with generally favorable morning wind. At this point the last few days of the waiting period look slower, although we’re low confidence on specifics this far out.
For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com
Following the 2016 shark incident in South Africa involving three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning, the WSL has continued to enhance their protocols as they relate to athlete and animal safety.
At the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the WSL has instituted heightened athlete safety measures in the form of dedicated jetski drivers allocated to each competitor, safety boat for equipment caddies and watercraft for all WSL photography personnel.
In addition to the enhanced resources, the WSL has partnered with Surfing WA and Balconi to develop a new prototype for underwater surveillance. While this is still in the testing phase, the WSL will see if the technology can augment the pre-existing measures in place.
All enhancements and evolution in this space is done with ongoing communication between the WSL and its athletes.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Taj Burrow (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Jack Robinson (AUS)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Davey Cathels (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Michel Bourez (PYF), Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Chelsea Tuach (BRB)
Heat 3: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Alessa Quizon (HAW), Felicity Palmateer (AUS)
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW), Sage Erickson (USA), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Johanne Defay (FRA), Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)