MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia/AUS (Tuesday, March 28, 2017) – The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the second stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), beings tomorrow with a competitive window of March 29 – April 9, 2017.
An abundance of swell and energy in the ocean looks to provide excellent surf for the opening day of the event window. All eyes will be on tomorrow morning’s call as Margaret River will offer solid options at North Point, Main Break and The Box for the competitors. If conditions allow for North Point to be called on tomorrow, the world will witness the best surfers on the planet compete at this prominent break for the first time ever in a WSL competition.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), six-time WSL Champion and current Jeep Rankings Leader, is committed to challenging herself in the wild and woolly conditions that Western Australia has to offer. Gilmore will match-up against Nikki Van DIjk (AUS) and injury replacement Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) in Round 1 Heat 4.
“To start the year off with a win and get the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey is pretty awesome,” Gilmore said. “I am feeling confident. Margaret River has always been a tough spot for me. I think the waves here are really challenging. I’ve grown up on groomed, perfect, sand-bottom waves, so to come over here and be challenged in raw ocean is much tougher. I hope to push myself out of my comfort zone and get a good result so I can keep the yellow jersey going into Bells Beach.”
Tyler Wright (AUS), 2016 WSL Champion, will be one to watch at this event as she is determined to defend last year’s event win. Wright is currently in fifth place on the Jeep Leaderboard, but a solid finish here could vault her back to the top of the rankings. Wright will see 2016 Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) and Trials Winner Laura Macaulay (AUS) in Round 1.
“I’ve been here preparing for a few days so I’m feeling comfortable,” Wright said. “Coming into an event as reigning champion doesn’t change much for me. There are seventeen other competitors hungry for results so anything can happen. I’m stoked we have such a good forecast, it looks as if it will be a great event.”
Local favorite Bronte Macaulay (AUS) will charge into this event for the first time as a full-time CT competitor. The powerful goofy-footer placed 9th as wildcard in 2016 and will be looking for a finals berth at her home event when she takes on Johanne Defay (FRA) and Malia Manuel (HAW) in the opening Heat of Women’s Round 1.
“I’m feeling really relaxed coming into this event,” Macaulay said. “It’s such an exciting time for everyone in the Margaret River region so it’s so special to be a part of it, especially with the fantastic forecast we have on offer. Laura [Macaulay] and I have been dreaming about competing in the event together since we were kids and now we finally get too. I think she will be really dangerous out here. We are all so stoked and excited for the week ahead.”
Taking out the local trials to win a spot in the main event was Macaulay’s sister Laura. Having overcome her sister in the trials three years ago, it will be the first time the local duo have competed in a CT event together.
“This will be the second time I have competed at this event,” Macaulay said. “It will be the first time Bronte [Macaulay] and I have done it together, which is so cool. The two of us competing together at home with our family watching is going to be so special. I feel really lucky to be able to do this.”
— World Surf League (@wsl) March 26, 2017
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Malia Manuel (HAW), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS), Laura Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van DIjk (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 6: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)