Pro’s fate re­mains in limbo

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Sport - War­ren Hately and Adam Poulsen

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.

Pic­tures: Justin Ben­son-Cooper, Richard Hath­away

Brodie Carr, WA Tourism's new manag­ing di­rec­tor, and French Poly­ne­sian surfer Mochel Bourez in April’s Mar­garet River Pro.

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