Pro’s fate remains in limbo
The new head of Tourism WA has declined to shed any more light on the future of the Margaret River Pro beyond 2019, despite impressive credentials as a former surf industry supremo.
New managing director Brodie Carr spent six years with the Association of Surfing Professionals, where his data, digital and media strategies drove its change to the World Surf League and become a successful global business.
Despite a detailed recent interview with The Sunday Times talking up the future of surf-related tourism in WA, Mr Carr continued TWA’s corporate line of refusing to comment on the future of the Pro in Margaret River beyond next year’s last contracted event.
It comes as environmentalists and surfers in Kalbarri ramp up opposition to the Pro’s rumoured relocation to Jake’s Point.
A TWA spokeswoman for Mr Carr declined to answer questions from the Times.
“Due to the competitive nature of the events industry, Tourism WA does not comment specifically on potential event discussions, decisions or negotiations,” she said.
“What we can say is that Tourism WA has an agreement with Surfing WA to hold the Margaret River Pro in 2019. We are in positive talks with Surfing WA and WSL about future years.”
TWA has led WA Government discussions with the WSL about retaining the Margaret River Pro amid longstanding rumours one of three Australian legs will be axed.
Margaret River’s status was further imperilled in April when two shark attacks on recreational surfers during the Pro led to the event’s cancellation, with the 2019 Pro rescheduled to May to avoid salmon runs.
However, TWA and Surfing WA undertook confidential discussions in Kalbarri and declined to scotch rumours the WSL was interested in Jake’s Point.
The proposal met with fierce opposition from Kalbarri Boardriders.
Mr Carr told The Sunday Times he wanted the Margaret River Pro to remain in WA but did not specify a location.
“It’s one of my favourite events, and with my surfing background, I’m really excited the Margaret River Pro is back next year,” he said.
“Surfing runs through my veins. I want to see that event here in some way, shape or form.
“We’re working on it. I’ll be doing everything I can to keep it.”
Last week, Indre Asmussen, of Geraldton Environmental Consultancy, released a detailed assessment saying Jake’s Point was ill-suited for any major international surfing contest.
She carried out the work at no cost when she became aware of the Boardriders’ concerns.
Dr Asmussen warned organisers in Kalbarri could leave residents with a hefty infrastructure bill.
“At Margaret River, they’re left with a redeveloped surfer’s precinct, which was planned to accommodate the large contest, and now they have to maintain the site,” she said.
Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane deferred questions beyond the 2019 Pro to TWA.
“The moving of the event dates out to the back end of May, early June should dish up some different conditions compared to years gone — also good that it extends the season out a little for local businesses,” he said.
Kalbarri Boardriders president Kit Rayner said his club planned to circulate a petition worldwide.
Brodie Carr, WA Tourism's new managing director, and French Polynesian surfer Mochel Bourez in April’s Margaret River Pro.