By D. Westphalen
The World Surf League (WSL) has been a successful surfing competition for over 40 years, but there have been a few problems over the years including in 2015, during the J-Bay Open, when Mick Fanning was attacked by a Great White Shark, luckily, the attack wasn’t fatal. This event was shocking to surfers and the WSL has been doing everything possible to prevent shark attacks.
A few months ago, the WSL was about to host the Margaret River Pro event in a beach in southern Australia. However, a few days before the event a recreational surfer was surfing around the Margaret River area, he was attacked by a shark and less than 24 hours later, the same thing happened to another recreational surfer in the exact same place. Fortunately, both surfers survived. Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL chief executive stated that: “however, the threshold has been crossed for the organization and if we decided to continue the event under the current circumstances and something terrible was to take place, we would never forgive ourselves,”. Additionally, Brazilian champion, Gabriel Medina claimed: "I do not feel safe training and competing in this kind of place, anytime anything can happen to one of us."
Around the time of the attack, beached whales were spotted which may have attracted the sharks near the coast. The WSL decided to cancel the event and the attack might bring bad publicity to the area and frighten off tourists. Despite all of this, the athlete’s safety always comes in 1st place for the WSL.
Despite the shark attacks, the WSL considers the Margaret River Pro very special and hopes to return in the future. Usually, the WSL trusts its water safety team and its shark prevention methods, but it can’t always keep sharks away. The competition’s representatives have not given up and hope to host more competitions there in the future.