Sharks, flat spells, and terror attacks
Today's cancellation of the Margaret River Pro is a surprise although it's not without precedent. Since professional surfing began in 1976 a number of contests have been halted due to force majeure, here are a few of them:
- In 1998, the Kana Beach Lacanau Pro, a CT contest in SW France, was cancelled after three days of abjectly flat conditions and nothing on the horizon. Kelly Slater tried to prove it could be surfed but the other competitors wouldn't have a bar of it. The comp stopped at the Quarter Finals with all remaining competitors taking 9th place.
- Following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, the ASP cancelled all remaining contests on the 2001 tour: The Bluetorch Pro Huntington, Lacanau Pro France, Rip Curl Pro Hossegor, Billabong Pro Mundaka, Billabong Pro Trestles, Rio Surf International, and the Pipeline Masters are all cancelled. CJ Hobgood, who was leading the ratings up to that point, is deemed the 2001 World Champion.*
- In July 2004 a huge sardine run in Natal, South Africa, forced authorities to remove all shark nets along the coast. The risk wasn't the sardines but the dolphins and sharks following them. The Mr Price Night Surfing contest, a QS offshoot to the Mr Price Pro, was subsequently cancelled as the ocean seethed with sardines, dolphins, and sharks.
- In 2005 the Billabong Pro Mundaka is again cancelled, this time because local authorities dredged 300,000 cubic metres of sand from the rivermouth to improve navigation. Boat captains on the Oka River were thrilled, locals surfers not so much. For 18 months the wave refused to break.
"You blokes don't need this sand do you?"
- Three minutes into the final of the 2015 J'Bay Open a shark lunges at Mick Fanning. The contest is cancelled with both Fanning and Julian Wilson sharing the points and prizemoney.
- The 1986 US Open wasn't cancelled but extended. On finals day a few lasses get their kit off which excites the lads who begin hurling bricks at the coppers, even setting fire to their sqaud cars. Among the melee, Occy and Glen Winton are surfing a best of three final. Occy wins the first two but contest director Ian Cairns tries to extend the specatcle so others don't join the fracas, so he sends them out for a dummy third heat.
- And let's not forget that next year's Pipe Masters has been cancelled waaaay in advance.
*And forever have an asterisk next to his name.