2018 Margaret River Pro | Macaulay progresses to quarterfinals

Gracetown surfer Bronte Macaulay shook off a less than stellar heat at North Point in Round 1 of the 2018 Margaret River Pro with a skilled and strategic performance at Main Break booking her a spot in the quarterfinals.

The event completed the first three heats of Round 2 before placing the event on hold, prompted by reports of a shark incident at Gracetown approximately 15 kms away from the event site.

After discussing with local authorities, the Water Safety Team and surfers, the WSL Commissioner's Office decided to resume competition for the Margaret River Pro at Main Break.

Surfer and Staff safety are top priorities for the WSL and when competition resumed, further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence, were added to the event's mitigation protocols.

In a day of groundbreaking performances from the worlds best female surfers, three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) topped the lot with an incredible mixture of power and progression to post a 17.37 heat total (out of a possible 20), the highest of the event so far. Moore finds herself in the Quarterfinals and staring down the barrel of a third Margaret River Pro win.

“The waves are pumping right now," said Moore.

"This is the first day of the waiting period where there hasn't been too much wind. It's a great, playful size right now. I was so excited with my surfing. The goal is to do something progressive like that whenever the section allows it. Luckily in that heat, I was able to put up a few scores so knowing that if I wanted to improve, I had to do something big. It gave me the opportunity to let go a little.”

Local favorite Bronte Macaulay (AUS) booked herself a spot in the Quarterfinals for only the second time in her young career. The 2017 Rookie of the Year has had a slow start to the CT season and hopes to solidify a spot inside the Top 10.

The local hero is now well on her way with an awesome display of backhand surfing that earned one of the highest heat totals of the event so far, a 15.73 (out of a possible 20) and dispatched reigning event winner Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS).

“I feel that my biggest advantage is that the after a long leg on the road Im back at home with friends and family, so Im feeling really comfortable and happy,” Macaulay said.

“The Championship Tour is so competitive so to make another Quarterfinals means a lot to me. Ive been surfing at Main Break more regularly the last few years so am feeling pretty confident out here.”

Reigning, two-time WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) had a breakthrough day at Margaret River by advancing to the Quarterfinals for the first time in 2018. Wrights trademark power earned her consistently high heat totals as she overcame the likes of Paige Hareb (NZL) in Round 2, and Coco Ho (HAW) and Johanne Defay (FRA) in Round 3.

“There has been so much going on here today, so Im glad to have stayed focused and surfed two good heats,” Wright said. “Main Break is a wave that offers great opportunities for a series of turns and particularly today — it was so good out there. Like the other girls in the Quarterfinals, Im here to win so I cant wait to get back out there.”

Defay came second in her Round 3 heat against Wright and Ho, moving her into the Quarterfinals where she will face Nikki Van Dijk (AUS). Ho received a penalty for interfering with Defay and was unable to recover. She will exit in Equal 9th place.

Van Dijk earned her Quarterfinal position by taking down Lakey Peterson (USA) and Malia Manuel (HAW) in Round 3 Heat 3. Manuel earned one of the highest heat totals of the event earlier today in Round 2 but was unable to close the gap later in Round 3 and is eliminated from the event. Peterson earned second place in the heat and will advance to the Quarterfinals.

Peterson had a close call in her Round 2 heat against Drug Aware WA Trials winner Mikaela Greene (AUS), who was hot on her heels until the final hooter.

The two traded the lead throughout the heat, but it was Peterson who held it at the end with Greene falling just short of the requirement with her impressive last ditch effort.

There isnt much silverware that six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) doesnt have in her trophy cabinet but a Margaret River Pro trophy is one that still eludes her.

Today, in classic fashion, Gilmore moved one step closer to achieving this goal with an epic display of style and finesse to progress into the Quarterfinal where she will match-up with hometown hero Macaulay. Gilmore hopes for another victory this season as she hunts for her seventh World Title.

“To be in the race for a World Title, you have to consistently be making it to the Quarterfinals and beyond so Im really happy to have made it and performed the way I did today,” Gilmore said. “Heading out for my Round 3 heat, I was so inspired by Carissa (Moore), Malia (Manuel) and all of the girls that surfed today, everyone was surfing so good. Thats what I love about this sport, you can watch the heats before you and get excited to get out there and show everyone what youve got and raise the bar.”

As Round 3 came to a close, conditions deteriorated and the WSL Commissioners put the competition on hold for improved surf and wind. Due to decreased swell and poor winds tomorrow, the WSL Commissioners Office has called off competition for Tuesday and will reassess Wednesday to make the next call.

– with World Surf League

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Margaret River Mail

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