The Samsung ASP World Tour Stop 2 - The Drug Aware Pro, Margaret River, Australia
After a surprise on the Gold Coast, a goofy footer hadn't won there in nine years, the tour now moves on to the classic Margaret River Main Break. Exposed to the full force of the Southern Ocean, Margaret River is one of the most consistent and challenging waves on the planet for a contest.
Although a new stop on the full championship tour it has long been a high ranking qualifying series event so there will be no surprises to any of the competitors.
Unlike a lot of waves on tour Margaret River is a split peak, a left and a right, meaning that in theory neither the goofy or regular footers have an out and out advantage. In reality the left and the right are very different waves though.
The lefthander is much more of a big open wall, with little in the way of barrels it is all about big carves. It suits both the forehand and backhand surfer. Those on their backside can get tight and vertical in the pocket whilst front side surfers can draw big lines. As the swell gets larger out here, and it does get solid regularly, the left becomes the main option, with the rights becoming tricky at size.
The right is a lot punchier, with the occasional barrel on the first section, it is all together more powerful to hit than the left. But it is a lot shorter, so to score highly you have to go big. Where it really gets the performance surfer's juices flowing is when the southerly wind is blowing into the end section allowing for almost perfect air sections.
Size wise the waves handles anything, or as big as you're willing to go. As it gets bigger the right becomes more and more of a suicide mission, whilst the left gets shifty and fatter. It makes for the potential for competition in a wide variety of surf.
Who to watch?
After the start he had all eyes will be on Gabe Medina, the futuristic goofy footer from Brazil has fired a warning shot for the new school, now can he do what the others have failed so far and back it up? Winning a world title is all about consistency and to nail one you really need to be finishing consistently in the top 10. Medina will have to work hard to win out here, it's as open of an event as we're going to get.
It is so open not because it is new on tour, having been a high ranking WQS event for years, but because everyone has a chance. The new school aerialists have ramps on the right, the old school power surfers have big carving faces, and more importantly the experienced contest machines have everything. Contest savvy and some solid understanding and use of priority are going to men everything out there.
With that in mind the likes of Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and local Taj Burrow are going to go far. However if the conditions are a little on the small side, and there are some ramps on the right, the likes of John John Florence, Julian Wilson and Josh Kerr all look good and have done well out here in the past.
In the women's event last year Hawaiian Carissa Moore put on an awesome show of power surfing to the win the event. In surf peaking at 6-8 feet she used her powerful style to dispatch all comers.
She will be dangerous again if the swell is big, as will Stephanie Gilmore who has alos done well out here. But like the men it will be wide open and is, in all reality way too tough to call.
It could all hang on the surf, small conditions throw it open even more, the shifty left and right peak is a very different wave at size compared to when small. At the moment there is a swell forecast for the beginning, in the small to medium range. Then it looks small for a large chunk of the event, but on the very long range there is the signs of a solid wave, so tune in to see what happens.
For us in Europe West Oz is a painful 8 hours ahead, meaning some very late nights, but you can follow all the action and heats on demand here - www.aspworldtour.com