Women Go Excellent to Open Western Australia Margaret River Pro
Excellent scores and conditions kicked off the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 5 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT) with the first two rounds of women’s competition completed today.
Main Break turned on and provided offshore surf in the three-to-five foot range for competitors to put on a show.
Pictured: Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) continued her stellar form in 2023 today at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, posting the highest two-wave total of the event so far. Credit: © WSL / Hughes
In an emotional end to the day, Macy Callaghan (AUS) and Isabella Nichols (AUS) were eliminated from the event and have officially fallen off Tour. They will now turn to the Challenger Series to fight their way back on the CT in 2024. One more spot above the Cut line was claimed by rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA), who showcased her talent brilliantly during the Elimination Round after hearing the good news.
World Champs Wright and Moore Dominate Opening Round
Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) looks to have carried her momentum from last week's win at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach into Day 1 at Main Break, posting the highest heat total of the event so far, a 16.83 (out of a possible 20). Wright’s frontside power hacks were the perfect match for the big open walls as she overcame Johanne Defay (FRA) and Macy Callaghan (AUS) in Heat 2 of the Opening Round. Currently sitting comfortably in 2nd on the rankings, Wright will now be looking to solidify her spot inside the Top 5 heading into the second half of the season.
“I haven’t actually had the prep that I would have liked here,” Wright said. “That was actually my second surf since Bells, so it was nice to get out there and pinpoint your spot and adapt to the wind out there. It’s all a bit different here in the West, so I’m glad to have my bearings and happy to be back in this incredible place.”
The first heat of the day saw Main Break standout Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) take an impressive heat win, posting a 14.00-point two-wave total to overcome Sunshine Coast duo Isabella Nichols (AUS) and Sophie McCulloch (AUS). Moore, a five-time World Champion and two-time winner here at Margaret River is looking to add another event win to her name to take the yellow Leader jersey back from Picklum.
Tour veteran Lakey Peterson (USA) finally found her form here at Main Break, putting together a solid performance to earn a near-excellent heat total of 16.07. Peterson won this event in 2019 and needs another big result this year to climb the rankings and make the Cut, as she is currently in 15th place. Peterson’s impressive heat total was enough to edge out reigning 8-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), who progressed in second place with a solid two-wave combination of 15.00 points.
“It’s hard when you keep getting bad results over and over, but you’re surfing is there,” Peterson said. “I feel like I’ve been surfing well this year, but it feels like I just haven’t had the rhythm. Since Bells I’ve just had to remind myself that I’m living my dream and I’m trying my best so whether I make the cut or not, I’m doing what I can, and I should be happy with that.”
Pictured: Lakey Peterson (USA) found her form on Day 1 of competition at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro. Credit: © WSL / Hughes
Event Wildcard Macaulay Overcomes Rankings Leader Picklum
Event wildcard Bronte Macaulay (AUS) proved she is a threat to the world’s best, using her local knowledge and backhand attack to overcome current rankings leader Molly Picklum (AUS) in Heat 3. She is looking to improve on her back-to-back equal third-place finishes at Main Break this time around. Her father, Dave, won here in 1989, and she hopes to add to the Macaulay legacy by winning this event
Rookie Simmers Makes the Cut, Callaghan and Nichols Relegated to the Challenger Series
Rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA) had a rough start to the day, losing her Opening Round match and being sent to the Elimination Round. But, after receiving news of officially making the Mid-season Cut, she bounced back. The rookie phenom turned in an excellent score of 8.17 and a solid backup of 7.07 to win the first heat of the Elimination Round.
“Really happy about making the Cut,” said Simmers. “That was my goal for this year. I was kind of stressed coming into this event not knowing. I definitely wanted the assurance so it’s pretty nice knowing I made it.”
Both heats of the Elimination Round were must-win situations, as Courtney Conlogue (USA), Macy Callaghan (AUS), Isabella Nichols (AUS), and Brisa Hennessy (CRC) fought to keep their spots on Tour. Tour veteran Conlogue looked confident under pressure in the first heat of the Elimination Round. Her power carves ultimately earned her the win over CT sophomore Callaghan.
Hennessy got off to a quick start in Elimination Round, Heat 2, throwing two massive turns to earn a 6.50. She then bettered her position, earning her highest score of the match, a 7.27. In a shocking turn of events, defending event winner Nichols couldn’t find a rhythm and was eliminated from the event and cut from the Tour. Callaghan and Nichols will now have to fight their way back to qualify for the 2024 Championship Tour through the Challenger Series.
“It’s crazy to have had the best day of my life on this beach a year ago and today to be having one of my worst,” Nichols said. “That's competitive sport for you, though–lots of ups and downs. I don’t think I’ve had a great year to this point, and all of the emotions just came out in that heat. I’ll go away and reset and be back ready to go.”
The next call will be tomorrow, Friday, April 21, at 7:15 a.m. AWST for a possible 7:35 a.m. start.
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.00 DEF. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 11.70, Isabella Nichols (AUS) 9.27
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.83 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.34, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.07
HEAT 3: Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.10 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 11.50, Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 10.50
HEAT 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.07 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.00, Caitlin Simmers (USA) 9.97
HEAT 5: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 16.66 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 14.20, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.20
HEAT 6: Caroline Marks (USA) 15.17 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.77, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 11.26
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 15.24 DEF. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.77, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 7.60
HEAT 2: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 14.84 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 13.77, Isabella Nichols (AUS) 5.33
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Round of 16 Matchups
HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
HEAT 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
HEAT 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
HEAT 6: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
HEAT 7: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 8: Caroline Marks (USA) vs. Brisa Hennessy (CRC)
Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Caio Ibelli (BRA) vs. Ian Gentil (HAW) vs. Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
HEAT 2: Ryan Callinan (AUS) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
HEAT 3: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Nat Young (USA) vs. Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
HEAT 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Jackson Baker (AUS) vs. Jarvis Earle (AUS)
HEAT 5: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Liam O'Brien (AUS) vs. Jerome Forrest (AUS)
HEAT 6: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jack Thomas (AUS)
HEAT 7: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Seth Moniz (HAW) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRC)
HEAT 8: Yago Dora (BRA) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
HEAT 9: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Rio Waida (INA) vs. Maxime Huscenot (FRA)
HEAT 11: Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA) vs. Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
HEAT 12: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Barron Mamiya (HAW)Watch LIVE
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro is open through Sunday, April 30, 2023. Once called ON, the competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app.
The Western Australia Margaret River Pro is presented by Tourism WA, Shiseido, YETI, Red Bull, True Surf, Surfline, Augusta Shire, Boost Mobile, Bonsoy, Harvey Norman, Bond University, Oakberry, Coopers, Rusty, GWM, Healthway, Bailey Ladders, Hydralyte and Bioglan.