Cooly boys head for Margaret River pro
WORLD champion and current ASP World rankings leader Joel Parkinson barely had time to dwell on his loss to Kelly Slater in the tour opener at Kirra Point.
Jumping on a plane and heading West the day after the first WT final of the year, Parko travelled with his wife Monica and family to the prestigious big wave prime rated Drug Aware Margaret River pro starting this Saturday and running until the following next Sundy March 24.
Joel will be number one seed for Margs with his Coolangatta mate Mick Fanning, a semi-finalist at Kirra starting as number two seed.
Both the Cooly boys have won at Margaret River in their qualifying years, Mick in 2001 and Joel in 2002.
Last year's winner John John Florence has been sidelined after the Hawaiian aerial specialist injured himself in an expression session heat at Snapper Rocks.
It's unknown at this stage if Florence will be ready in time for the Bells Beach Easter Pro.
Despite not being a World Tour event counting towards this year's World Title, Margaret River has attracted most of the world rated top 34 surfers, although a noticeable absentee is none other than Kelly Slater.
In previous years the 11 times World Champion has been paid appearance money to attend.
But it seems the King will sit this one out and commit to the next WT event, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach running from March 27- April 7.
It starts straight after Margaret River.
The Surfline forecast is pointing at an Hawaiian size swell in the 20feet range on the eve of the Drug Aware event, but by next week the surf will greatly decrease to a more manageable style for Surfers Point which is the venue of both the men's and women's competition.
In fact it is the first time in about 10 years that Margaret River has upgraded the women's event to be part of the world title tour and counting towards this year's women's world title.
Lennox Heads' Tyler Wright is the current ratings leader from Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa,NSW) in second and 5 times current World Champion Stephanie Gilmore in third.
There's no doubt that Steph will be out to exact revenge at Margs and try and wrangle back the lead from her two younger NSW opponents.
The level of competition in the women's this year is arguably the best yet and any of the top 17 is capable of winning depending on the surf.
The Hawaiian quartet Carissa Moore, Coco Ho, Malia Manuel and Alan Blanchard will be counting on some raw rugged power that they are familiar in.
California's Courtney Conlogue has won the last three women events at Margaret's and has a close affinity with the reef break that can work as a split peak.