MARGARET RIVER, West Australia/Australia (Tuesday, May 28, 2019) - The Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 4 on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), will open tomorrow and hold a competitive window through June 9, 2019. The world's best surfers arrived in Margaret River only a few days after completing the previous CT event in Bali and will hopefully be greeted with promising conditions for the Margaret River Pro's opening day.
Western Australia's unique coastline will offer three competition venues: Margaret River Main Break, the event's primary site, as well as back-up sites, The Box and North Point. The first call will be tomorrow morning at 7:10 a.m. AWST for a possible 7:30 a.m. start at Main Break.
World Champions Stephanie Gilmore and Kelly Slater Eye First Event Wins in Western Australia Fresh off her 30th CT event win at the recent Corona Bali Protected, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) comes to Margaret River leading the 2019 World rankings. The seven-time WSL Champion owns hardware from almost every location from around the planet, but Margaret River is one stop she has yet to win. After a victory less than a week ago, Gilmore hopes this year will be hers at the Margaret River Pro.
"West is best because, I mean, it's beautiful," Gilmore said. "Look around at the coastline, the scenery, the surf, the landscape, the food - it's all amazing. It's such a crispy and fresh place to come and rejuvenate and get adventurous looking for waves. Winning in Bali was great for a number of reasons but mainly because I'm back leading the rankings, which is huge for my confidence. I lost my lead after a few average results at the first two events so I'm really happy to be back on top and will hopefully hold onto that spot for as long as I can."
With 55 CT victories to his name, 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) is undoubtedly the most winningest surfer in history. One event trophy that continues to elude him is a Margaret River Pro title. After his best result of the season so far in Bali, a reinvigorated Slater eyes off a historical win this year in Western Australia.
Kanoa Igarashi Aims to Continue Winning Form at Margaret River Pro Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) celebrated a big win at the Corona Bali Protected a few days ago. The 21-year old earned his, and Japan's, first CT victory, which now puts him at World No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard. Igarashi will hope to carry his career best form into the Seeding Round of the Margaret River Pro when he comes up against 2019 CT Rookie Soli Bailey (AUS) and Yago Dora (BRA) in Heat 2.
"The win in Bali is still really fresh for me," Igarashi said. "I've realized how much it means not only for me and my career but for my country of Japan, for my friends and family, and everyone in my corner. This definitely motivates me to think of this. It's crazy to think that now I'm No. 2 in the world and am in a race to keep my position with guys like Kelly Slater and John John Florence. This is a huge win or me, but I do know it's still so early in the year. I'd like to think I could continue this run here in Margaret River."
Local Favorite Bronte Macaulay Ready to Compete for Home Crowd
West Australian favorite Bronte Macaulay (AUS) has come from Bali where she bagged her best result of 2019 with a 5th place finish. Having never made it past the third round of her home event, the Gracetown native will look to carry her momentum into her backyard, where she will have all the locals cheering and supporting her throughout the competition.
"This event means a lot to me because I've been coming to watch it since I was at school and we'd come here on excursions," Macaulay said. "I know it also means so much to all of the locals, especially the groms. I surfed with a few local girls this morning and they were all frothing for the Rising Tides event and were so excited they couldn't sleep last night, so I know it means so much to everyone around here. We really are so lucky to call this place home. It's such a crazy, rugged coastline with all of these different types of waves and fresh clean water. Everyone that lives in the small town is so happy because of what we have. I've had a few really heartbreakingly close heats this year, but I feel like I'm continuing to learn and improve which is great."
Rising Tides - WSL Girls Program Takes on Main Break's Pumping Conditions
The fourth Rising Tides - WSL Girls Program witnessed surfers, ages 6-to-16, take on Margaret River's Main Break alongside the world's best surfers. With solid swell for the Rising Tides heat, the young girls showed no fear of charging the big and challenging waves. Macaulay led the lineup, sharing local knowledge and inspiration with the girls of her hometown, who also hope to represent West Australia one day on the global surfing stage.
Wildcard and Injury Updates for Margaret River Pro
With 2019 CT Rookie Mikey Wright (AUS) pulling out of this year's Margaret River Pro due to an ongoing back injury, injury replacement Frederico Morais (PRT) will get his chance to compete amongst the world elite once again when the event gets underway. Adriano de Souza (BRA) has also withdrawn due to an ongoing injury and will be replaced by Caio Ibelli (BRA).
Currently sitting in 5th place on the 2019 Qualifying Series (QS) rankings, Jack Robinson (AUS) is the highest placing West Australian on the QS and receives the WSL wildcard for this year's Margaret River Pro.
The local trials were taken out by Jacob Willcox (AUS) and Mia McCarthy (AUS), who will take on on Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Deivid Silva (BRA), and Coco Ho (HAW) and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), respectively.
The first call will be tomorrow, Wednesday, May 29, at 7:10 a.m. AWST for a possible 7:30 a.m. start. At this time, event organizers will assess the conditions and decide the day's competition schedule.
The Margaret River Pro will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and Facebook.com/WSL . Also check local listings for coverage from the WSL's broadcast partners.