Gabby and Italo: “We Don’t Want To Surf Here!”
Google translate reveals the Brazilians’ true feelings on the shark situation in West Oz.
I did not intend to write about sharks once, twice, or especially three times today, but due to an unforeseen flurry of shark-induced tales, I have been forced into this unique and uncomfortable position.
However, it’s nowhere near as unique and uncomfortable as the position that Championship Tour surfers have found themselves in Western Australia at the moment, where every heat they surf feels like it could end with a win, a loss, or a loss of life and/or limb.
And some of them are not afraid to voice that very opinion.
A little birdy told me I should translate Gabby and Italo’s latest Instagram posts, and boy was she right.
Gabby, via Google Translate (not the best source of translation, I know, but I doubt the true meaning could be that far off from what’s here):
“Today they had two shark attacks on a beach close to where we’re competing. I do not feel safe training and competing in this kind of place, any time anything can happen to one of us. Hope not. Leaving my opinion before it’s too late!”
For historical reference, when it came time for CT surfers to decide whether or not they’d return to Jeffrey’s Bay after the 2015 shark incident, it’s rumored that Gabby was one of very few surfers who voted not to go back to the famed African point — a rumor that, if true, and when paired with today’s post, would paint a very clear picture that Gabby (perhaps understandably) dislikes sharks and/or overhead rights, quite a bit.
“Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, detail, just a few miles from where the event is being held. Very dangerous do not you think? even so, they keep insisting on doing steps where the risk of having this type of accident is 90%, so I ask: is not the safety of athletes a priority? We already had several alerts. Life is worth more! I hope it does not happen to any of us. I do not feel comfortable training and competing in places like this!”
Those are some very unambiguous words.
The two best goofyfoots in the world want nothing to do with the Margaret River Pro. And they have a fair point.
Why should they have to unreasonably risk their lives to compete in the sport of professional surfing… at Main Break?
And when I say “unreasonably”, I mean that surfing Pipeline or Teahupo’o is also a life-threatening endeavor, but in that situation it’s up to each individual which wave he takes, how he approaches the section, etc., whereas in the WA shark situation there is no choice. No Agency.
There is no “picking the smaller ones (read: waves/sharks)” to ensure one’s survival.
It’s purely a game of chance—and in West Oz, the chance of getting mauled by an effectively undetectable predator is higher than many, perhaps most, would choose to gamble.
In their recent Instagram post, the WSL said: We will continue to liaise with all involved, most importantly the surfers, their safety remains paramount.
So if a few surfers, or say… two very prominent surfers, came out and declared, “No, we won’t do it. We won’t go out there,” what is the WSL supposed to do?
Do they make the prominent surfers look bad by saying, “Well, we heard them, but we’ve got a pretty good handle on this shark situation and frankly they’re being major pussies about the whole thing…”
Or do they succumb to the pressure and cancel the event entirely?
Considering the WSL is already signed on for next year’s Margaret River event, and that the WA government is very well invested in this event taking place (see: their many, many ads in the WSL feed), we’re talking about a perpetual dilemma and potential conflict of interest.
According to Stab‘s birdy, the WA government takes painstaking efforts (skis, radars, etc.) to protect local surfing events, from the highest profile CTs to the lowest profile longboard events.
This is all well and good, but it still guarantees nothing as far as competitors’ lives are concerned, and it also doesn’t account for the “training” sessions that happen every day in the surrounding areas, like that little strip between Lefties and South Point, which at two kilometers long, has had numerous fatal and non-fatal chomps in the past 18 years, including the two yesterday.
So Gabby and Italo ain’t exactly crazy, is what I’m saying.
I only wonder which CTer, if any, will be next to state their well-founded fears to the masses. And what will it take for the WSL to pull out of this event—if not just this year, then far, far into the future?
Historically, the line they’ve drawn is quite clear. A competitor would have to be killed, or at least bitten by a shark, for the WSL to rule out a Tour stop entirely.
How else could they justify going back to J-Bay?
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