May 28, 2013
Western Australian surfers will be given the chance to take on the best competitors in the world when the Drug Aware Pro is elevated to the World Championship Tour in 2014.
For years the Margaret River-based surfing event has operated as part of the World Qualifying Series, one tier down from its planned elite status for 2014.
Despite not having been on the elite circuit, the Drug Aware Pro has regularly managed to attract the best surfers in the world, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, thanks to the popularity of the Margaret River region and its big, high quality, consistent waves.
Surfing WA Event Manager Justin Majeks said a male and a female Western Australian would be permitted to enter the main draw from next year.
“To match the format of the other WCT events, we will be hosting men’s and women’s trial events specifically for local surfers [from] which the winners will progress into the Drug Aware Pro,” Mr Majeks said.
Prominent Margaret River surfer, and former Drug Aware Pro semi-finalist, Tom Innes, said Surfing WA was doing the right thing by hosting locals-only trials.
“[Surfing WA CEO] Mark Lane in particular is really passionate about supporting the locals and doing the best he can for those guys who are trying to be professional, or [who are] at least [competing] against others at a professional level,” Innes said.
Local Prevelly surfer Brett Hardy says WA competitors will compete strongly, and earn their places in the main event.
“I think that’s the way it should be, the best surfers in the world competing against the best locals at their home spot,” Hardy said.
“I’ll be desperately trying to make it through the trials so I can have a crack at surfing against the best guys in the world.”
Elite WA surfer Taj Burrow will not be affected by the new local-entry rules, as he is already one of the top 34 placed WCT surfers, thus gaining automatic entry into every contest on the tour.