WSL Drug Aware Margaret River Pro preview
A test of endurance
The Drug Award Pro, the second stop on the men's and women's WSL Championship Tour, takes place at iconic Margaret River in Western Australia. An exposed, open-ocean break, the contest is not only a test of talent, but also endurance and a surfer's ability to handle any and all conditions. "Confidence is increasing that we'll see a strong/very strong SSW swell (220-190) for the opening day of the waiting period, Wednesday the 29th, before trending down Thursday and Friday," reads the official Surfline forecast. "This will be from a storm that will begin to strengthen in the western Indian Ocean in about 48 hours, but really looks most impressive 3-4 days from now as it moves closer to Western Australia."
Benefit of the doubt
A quarterfinal finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast had to have given Kelly Slater some confidence that he can still go out and roll with the best of them. The 45-year-old world champ is the most senior competitor on tour, but when you're considered the greatest of all time, anything can happen. He hasn't always had the best results at Margaret River, but he's certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.
Hard to beat
The defending women's world champ and defending event champ, Tyler Wright, is a force to reckon with at Margaret River's Mainbreak. Her powerful, no-holds-barred approach to surfing the place makes her incredibly hard to beat, especially if the swell is pumping like it's expected too.
Big man, big ambitions
A big man with big ambitions, South Africa's Jordy Smith has to be a favorite to win in West Oz. The cooler water conditions, the open-ocean swell, it's very much like the waves he grew up surfing. The talent and confidence are all there, he just needs to put it all together.
Getting back on track
Can Carissa Moore get her groove back? The three-time world champ made the quarterfinals at Snapper Rocks, but wasn't the usual talk of the town as other ladies on the WSL tour have stepped up their game. Historically, she's had some big wins at Margaret River and she'd love to get back on the winning track in West Oz.
Prepped for anything
Don't be surprised if you see Kolohe Andino at the end of the contest. As versatile as anyone on tour, he can take to the air with the best of them, but has a very complete tube and rail game. With the conditions often fluctuating drastically in West Oz, he should be prepared for anything the ocean throws his way.
Courtney Conlogue is another woman that could make a very large statement at Margaret River. She won the contest two years ago, and her brand of strong, full-rail surfing fits the powerful waves perfectly.
Feeling the sting
Julian Wilson felt the sting of an early-round loss in the first contest of the season. Can he shake it off and return to form or is this the beginning of another tough slide for Australia's golden child?
A real threat
The Margaret River lineup can be tricky for rookies with little experience at the break. That doesn't seem like it will be a problem for Italy's Leo Fioravanti. Perhaps the most well traveled of this year's rookie class, he's already logged water time there, and with his big power turns, he could be a real threat.
Joel Parkinson has been coming down to Margaret River since the late 1990s. He's definitely one of the most experienced at the break and has a keen understanding of its various moods. His fluid style and ability to link long, sweep turns together should serve him well.