Wilson not fazed by Marg Pro shark scares

The Margaret River Pro was twice put on hold because of shark scares but the competitors say they never felt in any danger.

sally fitzgibbons of australia surfs during the oi rio pro in rio de janeiro brazil
SALLY FITZGIBBONS of Australia surfs during the Oi Rio Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Australian surf star Julian Wilson has praised the new safety measures at the Margaret River Pro after being plucked from the water during a shark scare on Tuesday.

Wilson was 13 minutes into his semi-final against Kolohe Andino when they were rushed onto water skis after a four-foot shark was sighted by a drone.

It was the second time in the morning a shark interrupted a heat, with the semi-final between Lakey Peterson and three-time world champion Carissa Moore also put on hold.

The sharks were believed to be juveniles.

Surfers waited on the jet skis until the sharks had swum away, with the heats resuming after several minutes.

Two-time world champion John John Florence ended up winning the men's event, with Peterson coming up trumps in the women's.

But it was the shark sightings that dominated the headlines.

A bigger shark stopped competition on Sunday when Andino was taking on Seth Moniz in a quarter-final.

The incidents come a year after the 2018 Margaret River Pro was cancelled midway through after two recreational surfers were attacked nearby.

Extra safety measures were included for this year's event.

Shark-monitoring drones were employed for the first time, while the WA Fisheries Department dropped an acoustic receiver in the water each day to detect tagged sharks swimming nearby.

The event was moved from mid-April to late May and early June in order to avoid the annual salmon run.

Wilson is no stranger to shark scares, having been in the water when Mick Fanning encountered a shark at the 2015 J-Bay Open.

The 30-year-old famously swam towards Fanning in a bid to help his friend fight off the shark.

Wilson, who ended up losing his semi-final heat to Andino on Tuesday, said he didn't hold any shark fears at this year's Margaret River Pro.

"I think the organisers have done a fantastic job for us," Wilson said.

"I feel really safe out there, and the rest of the competitors do as well. It's the best time to be surfing it with all the skis around."

Peterson, who beat Tatiana Weston-Webb in the final, also didn't have any concerns.

"It was just a small shark, just outside the contest area. It was just chasing some fish," Peterson said.

"They got us on the skis right away. I felt really safe, how well the water patrol was taking care of us the whole event.

"We're all excited to come back here next year."

Florence, the 2017 Margaret River Pro winner, polled a stunning two-wave total of 18.50 in the final to beat Andino (15.10).

The two-time world champion wasn't worried about the shark sightings.

"Just knowing they can see what's around the line-up, and how quickly the water patrol comes and gets the surfers - if anything it makes us feel safer," Florence said.


AAP