Sharks, flat spells, and terror attacks

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

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.


johnson's picture
johnson's picture
johnson commented Wednesday, 18 Apr 2018 at 2:06pm

You forgot Portugal in 2002 - the waves were deemed incontestable and it was cancelled around about round 4.

Also you've got 2001 a bit wrong - it was already a reduced tour of 8 events that year. Only three were cancelled - Trestles, plus 2 in Europe. Pipe was never scheduled to be a WCT that year, it was a specialty invitational event. However the WCT did return to Hawaii for a world title showdown that year at Sunset, which was a WCT event at that time.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Wednesday, 18 Apr 2018 at 2:34pm

* for sure.
CJ seems like a lovely bloke, and I'm sure the decision was never made expecting that outcome, but I'll never consider him a world champion.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Wednesday, 18 Apr 2018 at 8:08pm

That *..... Ouchie

What about 2015 (?) Snapper. Had to extend by a day didnt they. Can remember Medina cracking the shits thus stuck in my memory

Latest News

Watch: Governed By Lines

Stu Nettle

Soli Bailey and Ian Crane on an Irish romp.

Medina wins Teahupoo, moves into second place on the rankings

Gabs grabs a last-minute barrel to beat Owen and breathe down Filipe's neck.

John Witzig exhibition at Bondi

Stu Nettle

Images from a golden age.

Quarter-finalists decided at tiny Teahupoo

Even Turpel couldn't talk it up.

Photos: The Shieldsy Chronicles - Telo Islands

Stu Nettle

Looking back on July in the Telo Islands.

Watch: Parko's last lap at Teahupoo

Stu Nettle

Parko reflects on scary times and rip offs at the end of the road: "They're just judges, they got excited and weren't sure what to do....Mick will vouch for that."

Noosa Festival of Surfing gets a reboot

World Surfaris sign on a multi-year deal to host the festival.

Watch: Tyler Newton // Nias

Stu Nettle

The surfer with the best strike rate from the 'Captain Timmy' swell.