2018 Margaret River Pro Preview
The third stop on the WSL Tour is just about to kick off in the raw Indian Ocean of Margaret River, West Oz. This event is all about solid carves, slabbing tubes and big finishes onto basically dry reef. Word around the event site is that North Point could be on the cook Friday to kick things off at one of the best right handers on the planet.
In case you’ve had your eyes shut and ears plugged for the last few years, North Point is a long, draining barrel over a rock ledge that bowls out and hisses spit into a channel at the end. The prevailing Southerly wind there can also mean giant airs into the breeze. It’s a beast. The main event site is a peak, but generally the biggest scores go down on the right. It’s has a similar wall to Bells, but with more push and a heavier section to finish. Then there’s The Box, which Ross Williams has described as “like surfing a haunted house”. It’s a frightening drop into an intense barrel that can chandelier or pinch on you without warning. A wave where surfers on their forehand have a distinct advantage.
Now knowing the ins and outs of each possible venue, here’s a rundown of how the Billabong boys are likely to fair when the comp goes green.
Fresh off a win at Bells, Italo’s blood will be running hot. His backhand carve game is razor-sharp right now, so he’ll be at his most deadly when the event is at main break. The guy is more sure-footed than a mountain goat, so the end section that gives a lot of surfers trouble will play right into his hands (or hooves). If the event goes to The Box and he draws a natural-footer, that’s when he’ll be at his most vulnerable. Still, Italo has made semi finals at Margaret River before, so has to be one of the favorites, especially considering his recent form.
Griffin has already proven he’s throwing everything he’s got at the big boys his first year on tour. He was a weapon at Snapper, especially at Kirra when things started pitting. If the event does go the North Point, things could get wild. Considering Griff loves it in heavier water - reigning Triple Crown Champ and all - Margaret River could easily turn into one of his pet events. He’s an unproven quantity here but, with his reputation for sticking Hail Mary moves on tricky sections, everyone (especially his competitors) will be watching him very closely.
Fred has only surfed this event once before and lost in round 2. Knowing that, you might think he’s on the back foot coming into Margaret River. Wrong. His wrapping carves are perfect for Main Break, plus waves like Coxos and The Cave in Portugal are super similar to North Point and The Box. He has been bred on waves of consequence. Throw in the fact Fred notched up a heat total of 15.5 last year yet still lost, and you’ve got an idea of what he can do in this place. Get ready for fireworks in his heavy round 1 draw against Kolohe Andino and Zeke Lau.
Parko has a love/hate relationship with Margies. He won the event when it was a WQS in 2002 and made semis in 2016, but has also crashed out early in other years. If he makes it past round 3, look out, he’s likely to thread his way through to the final series. You can bet that he’s itching to steal the spotlight from recently retired mate Mick Fanning too. If there’s anything Joel loves, it’s showing up his buddies in heaving pits. With the North Point forecast on the cards, he’ll be fired up to compete in heaving waves where he dazzles like a West Coast sunset.
*Photos courtesy of the World Surf League (@wsl)*