2018 Margaret River Pro surf competition cancelled after shark attacks
Published: 18 April 2018 Image credit: Gabriel Medina competes during the Billabong Pipe Masters in 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
The World Surf League has cancelled the 2018 Margaret River Pro surfing competition after two men were attacked by sharks near Gracetown in Western Australia.The attacks took place six kilometres from the main site where the event was to be held.
Alejandro Travaglini, 37, was attacked at Cobblestones beach and needed surgery to both legs.
Jason Longrass, 41, walked to an ambulance after a shark bit him on the leg at nearby Lefthanders break.
Examination of both men's surfboards reportedly revealed a great white shark was involved in both attacks.
Today World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt took to Twitter to say that the decision to cancel the event was difficult, but surfer and staff safety was the priority.
"The WSL puts the highest premium on safety," she said.
"This cannot be just talk, and it cannot be compromised."
The WSL said it has no plans to abandon the event in the future, but shark fears could threaten a new deal securing the competition’s place on the elite tour.
The event has one year left on its current deal.
The decision by officials to cancel the event was announced early yesterday morning after pressure from two of the world’s top surfers.
Former world champion Gabriel Medina and world No.1 Italo Ferreira expressed safety concerns on social media, saying they did not feel safe competing in the Margaret River region.
“Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, just a few kilometres from where the event is being held,” said Brazilian surfer Gabriel Medina on Instagram.
Authorities said a nearby whale carcass likely attracted sharks to the area, and may have contributed towards their aggressive behaviour.
It’s understood three sharks attempted to feed on the whale’s carcass after it was towed out to sea.
How the cancellation of the event affects world title points is yet to be determined.
The women's event was up to the quarterfinal stage, while the men were about to enter round three.
Organisers of the event say there is a chance the remainder of the competition may be run later this year at a location yet to be confirmed.
It’s the first time the surf competition has been cancelled.