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Your pregame for: The Margaret River Pro

For the first time in over 20 years, Margaret River is once again a WCT stop for both men and women. The event fires up with the trials tomorrow (tuesday) and the main event to follow the next day, if conditions come to the party. With the new ASP coming outta the gates so hard, and […]

// Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

For the first time in over 20 years, Margaret River is once again a WCT stop for both men and women. The event fires up with the trials tomorrow (tuesday) and the main event to follow the next day, if conditions come to the party. With the new ASP coming outta the gates so hard, and brilliantly, at the first event of the year, stop two will be an interesting study, especially given how poorly Margies stacks up next to Snapper as a high performance, spectator spot. Which isn’t to say Margaret River doesn’t have its strong points (it does), but it’s a different flavour f’sure.

And the best news of all? The Box is a backup contest location. That’s kinda too exciting to even hope for…

Here’s some things you might like to know about stop two of the 2014 ASP Samsung Galaxy World Tour.

Story by Craig Jarvis

No, it isn't Margaret River. But this is what the West of Australia is capable of producing. Taj Burrow has finger firmly on pulse. Photo: John Barton

No, it isn’t Margaret River. But this is what Western Australia is capable of producing. Taj Burrow has a finger firmly on pulse. Photo: John Barton

Tips from the local veteran: Taj Burrow

Pray to whoever y'got that we see some heats at The Box. Dino Adrian, from afar. Photo: Lauren Trickett

Pray to whoever y’got that we see some heats at The Box. Dino Adrian, from afar. Photo: Lauren Trickett

Crossing the border. That’s what it’s called when Taj Burrow travels from Yallingup to Margarets. “I only really surf the main break at Margarets when I have a singlet on,” reckons Taj of his past experiences out there. “What I do know is that if it’s six to eight feet, east wind and south-west swell, it’s on. There are actually so many waves in the area, and all these little bays and crannies, so it’s always offshore somewhere.”

One of the best things about the Margaret River Pro this year is that The Box is an alternative venue. “It’s such an exciting place to run heats,” reckons Taj. “It’s only got a small window during the day, so you’ll be lucky if you get a heat out there, but if it’s on it’ll be so good. The thing is, when the Box is on then Margarets is usually pumping as well, so we’ll have to see if they’re interested in moving the venue. It is so dependent on the tide, and when the sea breeze comes it’s finished almost immediately.”

Taj at Margies way back in 2011. ASP/Robertson

Taj shucking at Margies way back in 2011. ASP/Robertson

Either way, Taj is looking forward to the event kicking off: “I’ve got quite a few commitments going on at the moment,” he says. “I’ve been busy with a Billabong product shoot, and the Red Bull guys have been chasing me down for their 21Days project, so it’s been pretty full-on the last couple of weeks. I don’t really mind though. I’m sleeping in my own bed, and I’m around family and friends, so it’s good to be home and about. I’m feeling confident and relaxed, so a pretty good place to be right now.”

And, Taj is ready on all fronts. “I’ve got a million boards right now and I’ve been getting in the water a lot, so I’m ready for whatever conditions. I’m just hoping for one or two days of solitude when everyone kinda finishes with me and I have some down time to chill out, to soak up some of the energy around here. Maybe some of the other waves in the area will turn on as well. There are so many good waves, so many little spots that just turn on. It looks like we’re going to get a bit of a push for the start of the period. I’m pretty sure we’ll get a good start.”

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Mr Jay Davies, a product of the desert if ever we did see one: Kind as imaginable on land, aggressive as imaginable in the water. Photo: John Respondek

Mr Jay Davies, a product of the desert if ever we did see one: Kind as imaginable on land, aggressive as imaginable in the water. Photo: John Respondek

Tips from a local trialist: Jay Davies

And now to the brill younger local, Jay Davies, who swooped a golden ticket into the trials. We’re big fans of Mr. Davies. He kills in all sorts of conditions. And, knows his way around surfing in West Oz better than most. Here’s a cut of his insight…

Stab: Is this a good time of year, Mr Davies? Has there been waves?
Jay: I’ve been surfing so much recently, the waves have been really good. It’s been small, but punchy and getting into all the little bays. It’s been mostly west swells, so there have been waves for days. I can’t tell you many names. A spot called Cobbles and another little joint called WindMills have both had a few good waves recently. Nothing big, just a few fun little runners. There was a sandbank that formed further up, on the Cape, and it was totally insane, but everyone found out about it and eventually it was as crowded as the Superbank. There are still waves there, but we’re already surfing elsewhere. As long as I get my two surfs in every day, wherever, then I’m good.

You surf Margarets much? Not really. I often go and have a look, and I sometimes think that I’d be out there if it broke a bit closer to the beach. It breaks pretty far out.  I like shorebreak waves, little beachie peaks, waves that break 10 metres from the beach. I’m probably a bit slack that way, but my gig is to rather catch a whole bunch of waves close to shore.

Are there any tricks to surfing Margarets? Well, the last two event winners were Hawaiian, so there can’t be too many local knowledge tricks or secrets out there. Eight-feet and below, it’s pretty straightforward.

Explain the wave. I’ve spent enough time out there to recognise the good ones. Smallish takeoff zone, bubble takeoff, no real tricks. It’s uncomplicated and consistent. You can easily work it out.

Do you hang out in the town much? Sometimes I get so much shit from my mates for going across from Yallingup to go surf that side. Crossing the border, passport stamps, one-day visa and all that shit. Still, I’m there quite a lot. It’s pretty cool to hang out and surf in and around Margarets.

Best place for breakfast and coffee? The White Elephant Beach Cafe. They have the best breakie burgers and great coffee, and everyone hangs out there in the mornings (breakfast burger will clock $12.50, and you’ll drop $4 on a flat white).

Night time hangout to dine and drink a few brews? Then you’d be going to the Gnarabar, mate. It’s a cool little restaurant and bar, great food, and everyone seems to end up there. Some funny stories come out of that place and it’s not that big of a joint, but lots of people hang out there. It’s the best place to be when in Margarets, and it all kicks off at Happy Hour at 5pm (pizza or wagyu burgers come in around $20, while a nice Porterhouse or braised beef is about $30. An extensive wine list and a jammed cocktail menu, the latter of which averages $14).

There’s a good little swell coming for the trials. Oh, yes. I’ve been grounding myself in the area since my trip to Morocco, and I plan on staying on for a few months and just chasing swells in and around the area. Hang at home, get as much water time as I can. I’m not going to go on any huge missions, spending like 20 hours squashed in an airplane, when I could be surfing such good waves around here. There’s a reason John John (Florence) and some of the other crew come and hang around here for months…

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Don't bet against Kelly. Ever. Photo: ASP/Robertson

Don’t bet against Kelly. Ever. Photo: ASP/Robertson

A brief betting form guide: We dove into Luke Munro’s Top Sport site for the Margaret River Pro odds. For the odds on an event winner check here. Mick Fanning leads the pack with the lowest odds of  7.5-1, while World Tour leader Gabby Medina is placed at a fairly unexciting 26-1 and would be a good buy for the win. Kelly Slater, on 8-1, is as safe as usual, but there are some big boys to take some chances with. Matty Wilkinson is hot to go for a big result and at 81-1 he could make a someone extremely popular at Happy Hour. Nat Young might have surprises and at 31-1, and fill a few pockets with tin, while Travis Logie is on 201-1, and wouldn’t it be great if the lightning-fast goofyfooter used those odds as inspiration and turned the betting table on its head with a win?

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A trialist to watch: Yadin Nicol. Kid grew up in the West. Photo: Andrew Schoener

A trialist to watch: Yadin Nicol. Kid grew up in the West. Photo: Andrew Schoener

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Trials:

– Jay Thompson
– Perth Standlick
– Nathan Hedge
– Mitch Coleborn
– Jacob Wilcox
– Mitch Parkinson
– Yadin Nicol
– Jay Davies
– Josh Burke
– Jack Robinson
– Jake Paterson
– Dino Adrian
– Jerome Forrest
– Drew Everest
– Shaun Howe

Watch the trials go down right here.

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