Biggest crowds yet gather for Quiksilver and Roxy Pro
ORGANISERS of the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros will address severe parking issues at Coolangatta and Tweed Heads in the future, after bumper crowds caused gridlock over the last week.
Despite miserable and rainy weather conditions, thousands of surfing fans flooded into Snapper Rocks over recent days to catch a glimpse of the pros in action at the event - the first World Surf League championship of the season.
While it was heartening to see such support for competitors, the popularity of the event led to a severe shortage of parking, with many forced to park on grass median strips and in neighbouring suburbs.
Some spectators arrived early - or stayed in local holiday accommodation - but others were forced to trek kilometres from their cars to catch a glimpse of the action.
WSL head of communications Dave Prodan said he had not seen a crowd like it at Snapper Rocks before.
“This is my 11th year... and I don’t recall a crowd on the beach on the final day being that solid,” Mr Prodan said.
“Across the board, whether we’re here or Margaret River or Bells Beach or California... the increase in people in the last 10 years has been significant.
“Fortunately our relationship with the local council here is very positive and we hope to address that next year.”
While the official event window spanned until March 21, the event wrapped up early as the WSL took advantage of the swell.
“The one thing that we can’t control is obviously the weather,” Mr Prodan said.
“We were very fortunate to get great conditions early in the (event) window, compared to what it was looking like a few weeks out.”
The event marked a thrilling start for Australia in this year’s WSL world championship, with Matt Wilkinson from Byron Bay and Tyler Wright, from Lennox Head, taking out the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros respectively.
Mr Prodan said both men and women competitors had reaped great results for the first competition of the season.
Rookies like Wilkinson and semi-finals contender Stuart Kennedy, from Lennox Head, culled some big names from the competition early on.
Kennedy booted surfing legend Kelly Slater and Gabriel Medina from the event, while Wilkinson knocked out 2015 world champ Adriano De Souza in the quarter-finals.
“It was very, very interesting,” Mr Prodan said.
“We saw some huge names go down early and some rookies do really well.”
He said this year’s Snapper Rocks event had proven the old adage: “anyone can beat anyone at any time”.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a stronger team on the women’s side, or the men’s side,” he said.