The World Surf League has again shown it refuses to take any chances with shark situations after Mick Fanning’s now-infamous run-in in South Africa four years ago. But it’s Australia that has proven to be the most problematic region of the world, testing the League most in recent years (you may recall last year’s Margaret River Pro being canceled and moved to Bali).
The first heat of Round 2 at Winki yesterday – an all-Australian affair between Owen Wright, Jack Freestone and Harrison Mann – was delayed after a big, dark object was seen in the water. “Jack and I saw a big shadow and started to paddle in not knowing what it could be,” said Wright. “Jack was waving at the skis and they came over to us and we jumped on the back and went to see what it was. We got over to the shadow and it turns out it was a massive clump of seaweed, but it was good that we took the precaution and the safety protocols worked well.”
Freestone was pretty sure it was a shark. “The last thing I thought it was was seaweed,” Freestone said. “And Owen was like, ‘Did you see that?'” Check out Jack’s stories on Instagram for a good blow-by-blow.
Mann was eliminated in the heat when surfing resumed following the false alarm. Before the conditions fell apart, Caio Ibelli managed to avoid another early exit, sliding into the third round. Things won’t get easier as he’ll face Filipe Toledo in heat 5. The third round opens up with a banger as Julian Wilson will face Kelly Slater in a win-or-go-home test.