Carissa, Steph and Tyler make big statements in round three.
It was an uneasy start to proceedings at the Margaret River Pro this morning. The women had barely commenced competition at fun looking Main Break when they were suddenly yanked from the water. News of a shark attack just 15 km away at Gracetown had swept through the comp site, and the event went into immediate hiatus while the facts were gathered and the WSL ‘enhanced their safety protocols’, which, once decoded, meant additional skis patrolling the lineup and the dispatching of drones to keep an eye out for large fish from on high.
Surf photographer Peter Jovic witnessed the attack and told ABC news it looks eerily similar to Mick Fanning’s encounter at J-Bay, but this time the surfer wasn’t so lucky.
“A shark popped up and pretty much ended up knocking a surfer from his board," reported Peter.
"There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on.
"[I] saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from the [surf] board and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in.
The good news is that the surfer who was attacked is now in a stable condition in hospital. Paramedics praising the friends of the victim for their swift action in stemming the blood flow, which they believe was crucial in his survival.
Back at Main Break, and with the all clear given, competition resumed. It was all pretty regular fare throughout the remaining round two heats with nothing much to report on (as is the way with round two).
However, once round three got underway things took a turn for the better.
The wind died, the waves legitimately pumped and the women answered in turn, or three of them did anyway.
Carissa Moore, Steph Gilmore and Tyler Wright all made big statements in their heats. Each showing they meant business and have every intention of carrying on said business until the trophy was theirs. Truth be told there was daylight between the surfing they produced and what the rest of the field dished up.
The first to strike was Carissa. The cleaner conditions were all the invitation she needed to tee off on the usually bumpy and gnarled walls of Main Break rights. Delivering a searing display of railwork, backed up by some of the progression we all saw in her Tahiti edit from earlier in the year. Before the other competitors had time to formulate a strategy Carissa had amassed a heat total of 17.37, putting them into a combination they would never break.
Upon returning to shore Pete Mel quizzed Carissa on her progressive approach, asking if it was something she employed only once she felt comfortable, to which she gave the heartwarming response, “We need to get progressive whenever the section allows, not just when the pressure is off.”
Isn’t that sentence a thing of beauty? Read it again and let it resonate for a moment. How much better would life as a surf fan be if that became the mantra for all professional surfers. I sincerely hope they were all listening.
If Carissa brought the progressive element, then the woman at the pointy end of the Jeep Leaderboard, Steph Gilmore, complimented it perfectly in the next heat, delivering her usual dreamy lines punctuated with vicious, driving and critical gaffs which simultaneously threw both boatloads of spray and shade at a good percentage of the men’s efforts at this wave. The beauty of Steph’s surfing, I believe, lay in her ability to be powerful without resorting to over muscled and manufactured torque; Steph’s power comes simply from being in tune with the wave itself. You can’t train it, that stuff comes inbuilt into certain surfers.
In the last heat of round three, while Joanne Defay and Coco Ho came rail to rail for yet another interference call (these two were also involved in an interference in the same round at Bells), Tyler Wright busied herself with burning her way though a series of huge grab-rail arcs before repeatedly dry docking herself on the surgeons table – God bless the Wright siblings. In my opinion they are exactly what Australian surfing needs right now – a bit of animal rammed down its throat. The textbooks at the High Performance centre needs to be binned and replaced with the good book of Wright! The clip of Mikey regulating the lineup at North Point and Owen’s 10’s at bombing Cloudbreak played endlessly on screens throughout the centre. Get the kids in the ring to go a few rounds with Tyler to toughen them up. Get them ravenous and set them loose on the world. Watch the world titles roll in!
What about Lakey I hear you ask? She was shredding at the start of the year you exclaim. Well, she surfed in heat three against Malia Manuel and Nikki Van Dyke, and truth be told, for the majority of the heat she looked like a shell of the surfer who iced the first event of the season in such emphatic fashion, in fact she never looked comfortable after pulling on the yellow jersey.
She wasn’t eliminated, coming second to Van Dyke, but she did her best to lose. She was a slave to poor wave choice and shaky legs for the majority of the heat, leading Rosie Hodge to comment that Lakey seemed to be “carrying pressure she doesn’t need to be carrying”.
Throughought the heat she slowly shrugged it off, enough to get herself through and into the quarters. She’s alive in the draw, but a quarter final match up with Tyler Wright awaits.