EVENT WINDOW: April 8-19, 2016
TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT + 8
COORDINATES: 33.9550° S, 115.0750° E
BAGGAGE CLAIM: Perth International Airport (PER)
THE WAVE: Several site options exist for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Main Break is a lefthand and righthand reefbreak that can produce excellent waves anywhere from 2-to-20 feet. The left tends to be the dominant wave and, in some some conditions, produces a hefty barrel. Depending on the size of the wave and strength of your legs, the wave has a big, open face and heavy lip to belt. Just watch out for the Surgeon's Table: The shallow ledge occasionally contorts the final section of the wave, catching the unaware by surprise. After Main Break hits 12-to-15 feet, all bets are off.
THE BIG BACKUP: The secondary location for the event at Margies is The Box, a break that got its name because it sucks water up so quickly it goes square when it breaks. Best in west swells from about five-to-eight feet, east winds and mid-to-high tides, The Box favors regularfooters. There is no left option here.
APRES SURF: In addition to the world-class surf, the Margaret River region also boasts one of the foremost vineyard populations on the planet. Enjoy a few glasses and watch the sunset on the Australian continent. Downtown Margaret River is home to a number of excellent pubs and eateries. Pro favorite: Have a truly unique experience by hitting up El Rio, a Mexican restaurant with a Californian chef based in the heart of Western Australia.
CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR HISTORY: Margaret River has been a staple for the world's best surfers since 1985, beginning its history on the men's Championship Tour (CT) as the Swan Margaret River Thriller. The women's elite Tour joined for the first combined event at Margarets in 1989. While Margaret River has been on the calendar in various capacities -- from 3-Star QS events (now called QS 3,000s) to CT level competition -- it has seen no shortage of World Champions compete on its grounds. Mark "Occy" Occhilupo (AUS) took out the inaugural event and won again in 2003. Tom Carroll (AUS) won back-to-back in 1986 and 1987.
NOTABLE: While Michel Bourez (2014) and Adriano de Souza are the only current CT surfers who have claimed elite Tour titles at Margarets but a lot of the guys on Tour have fared well here in the past. Mick Fanning, Josh Kerr, Joel Parkinson and John John Florence all took wins at the event when it held a Prime rating (now QS 10,000). Taj Burrow (AUS) won in 1997 when it was a 4-Star.
For the ladies, there have only been five victors in the eight years the contest has won, with repeats being common place. Wendy Botha (AUS) dominated early contests at Margaret River, Pam Burridge dominated the mid-nineties and reigning World Champ Carissa Moore went back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. Courtney Conlogue, who won the event last year, has a chance to join them with a win in April.
PAST MARGARET RIVER CHAMPIONS
2015: Adriano de Souza (BRA)
2014: Michel Bourez (PYF)
1990: Barton Lynch (AUS)
1989: Dave Macaulay (AUS)
1987: Tom Carroll (AUS)
1986: Tom Carroll (AUS)
1985: Mark Occhilupo (AUS)
PAST MARGARET RIVER WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS
2015: Courtney Conlogue (USA)
2014: Carissa Moore (HAW)
2013: Carissa Moore (HAW)
1996: Pam Burridge (AUS)
1993: Pam Burridge (AUS)
1992: Jodie Cooper (AUS)
1990: Wendy Botha (AUS)
1989: Wendy Botha (AUS)