The WSL secures access to North Point for the Margaret River Pro

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

1_60.jpgDuring last year's Margaret River Pro a large swell hit WA's south-west. The swell was large enough to wrap into the semi-sheltered Cowaramup Bay with sets up to eight foot breaking down the reef at North Point. It's an infrequent wave but when it breaks it's one of the best in the region.

Unfortunately for contest organisers - and also for surfers in the contest - North Point was out of bounds. The WSL, and the organisation who run the Margs event, Surfing WA, hadn't secured rights to move the event up the coast to Cowaramup Bay.

This year, however, Surfing WA have secured permission to use North Point should another bombing swell hit within the waiting period. It's taken a long time and included a few false starts but they've just been given the green light.

Swellnet spoke to Surfing WA CEO, Mark Lane, about the just-announced news.

Swellnet: The WSL has gained permission to use North Point, but are there any limitations on its use?
Mark Lane: Yes, we have been granted two days use of North Point during the event window - which in swell and surfing terms is about right. Regarding other limitations, yes, we have approximately three pages of compliance conditions that we must adhere to: mostly safety, environmental and traffic management conditions. 

How long did the negotiations take? 
We spent approximately two months initially speaking with some stakeholders to get more of an idea as to what would be involved in gaining approvals. That would inolve Police, Emergency Services, Shire, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Ratepayers etcetera. From that point it took approximately four months of more formal communication with all of these groups to ensure that they were comfortable with our planning and approach. 

How many stakeholder groups had a say in the North Point access proposal? 
Ultimately there are only two groups that give final sign off. However, getting final sign off involves us having to speak with and gain approvals from a variety of additional stakeholders under these two main umbrellas. In total we had to gain approval from eight different stakeholder groups, then proceed with one month of publicly advertising our proposal via newspaper advertising. Following the public advertising period we were then required to address all of the public concerns - which we were happy to do. Following that process our proposal then went to the Shire Meeting to be discussed and voted upon. Which was thankfully passed.   

So what are some examples of the plans and concessions Surfing WA must have in place to gain permission to use North Point?

The plans are really extensive. There's a:

  • Bush Fire Management Plan
  • Emergency Response Plan
  • Traffic Management Plan
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Water Safety Plan
  • Marketing Plan 
  • Waste Management Plan

As for concessions: having surfed in the area ourselves for forty years, the concessions are really more commonsense and mainly revolve around us protecting the environment and making sure people are safe and just to give confidence to authorities and stakeholders that we are well planned.  

If conditions present themselves, where would the judging tower sit? 
The judging tower would sit on a purpose built scaffold deck.

And where would spectators watch from?
Spectators, after we bus them in from a free parking location would need to view from the beach in the middle of the bay. Alternatively, they can watch it on the big screens on the main event site in Margaret River, or of course on phones, tablets, and TV.

After all this effort let's hope the swell comes.
Yeah, spot on. Fingers crossed.

The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro runs from April 8th to 19th.

Comments

floyd's picture
floyd's picture
floyd commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 4:32pm

no reverse airs there!

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 4:46pm

Nothing wrong with Full rotations though . Ask Jordy ? , Davies and the like .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Swalley's picture
Swalley's picture
Swalley commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 5:18pm

Bushfire plan,waste management plan,traffic management plan geesh......Remember the days when surfabout went to bendalong and just turned up, now that's surfing
Seriously

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 5:51pm

"Bush Fire Management Plan
Emergency Response Plan
Traffic Management Plan
Risk Management Plan
Water Safety Plan
Marketing Plan
Waste Management Plan"

What a joke...wish my local board riders had to jump so many hoops instead of taking up the best bank what seems like every second weekend.

Shane Dillon's picture
Shane Dillon's picture
Shane Dillon commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 7:44pm

Some of it sounds like overkill but the bushfire management plan is pretty important...not sure if you guys have been to Gracetown? Pretty much locked in with no way out if a bushfire starts inland and burns towards the coast...only one road in and out. Massive bushfires down that way a few years ago and also earlier this year which caused havoc with traffic congestion and a huge concert had to be cancelled.

rhys1983's picture
rhys1983's picture
rhys1983 commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 8:18pm

Margaret River main break / prev only has one way in and out and was also subject to a major bush fire a few years back.

wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 9:40pm

Oh no the poor local buggers ,who surf it all the time !-(

Builder Mike207, ? That's a real fire now eh!

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

Swalley's picture
Swalley's picture
Swalley commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 10:31pm

I could go to hundreds of breaks on the south coast of NSW and be totally surrounded by dense forest\bush
I totally understand that the comp draws crowds and their concerns with that , but gee when do we go back to people taking responsibility for their decisions
If their is only one way in and out and a bushfire cuts off access with a couple hundred people watching the comp no piece of paper is gonna make it easier
2 options run for the water or winch them out and hope the authorities extinguish the blaze
Don't need a plan for that , it's just another industry that someone is making a dollar out of...

Hako o hakonde ni-biki no inu's picture
Hako o hakonde ni-biki no inu's picture
Hako o hakonde ... commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 8:12am

Problem with that is if there is a fire coming from in land a crowd down on the beach would have a hard time breathing due to smoke blanketing them with the offshore wind, not to mention embers being blown into them the fire kilometers away.
The thick blanket of smoke is going to stop any airlift and running for the water? They are holding it at North Point because there is a big swell running, families running into the ocean with no visibility, shouldn't be a problem......

Jamie jessie's picture
Jamie jessie's picture
Jamie jessie commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 11:40pm

Mark it's really sad that you have changed so much,you were such an amazing person and mentor,what happened?you must not have spent enough time in Gracetown for you to have so little idea about our comunitee .

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 11:44pm

Won't effect me Welly, haven't surfed north's since 1999 and I get out of town thru contest period, too depressing, all the froth, the shire big wigs and VIP toss fest, horrible really , I just pray it doesnt get giant cause the locals can't surf margs and the pros don't want too, now they get their wish and can move the whole shebang to the bay if the swell gets serious and thr 60 odd guys who would normally be at np can't deal with it

wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:17am

Good call.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

jimjam's picture
jimjam's picture
jimjam commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 11:50pm

Hope the swell is up BIG TIME. The idea of just turning up and having a contest and/or surfing is how it should be. But big cheeses are involved these days - its all good tho aye - ill still watch the daily highlights. My girlfriend is a 10

quokka's picture
quokka's picture
quokka commented Friday, 18 Mar 2016 at 11:57pm

They're gonna need some big fuckoff cancer causing dishes to beam the live feed out.

dong5000's picture
dong5000's picture
dong5000 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 2:04am

Haha well said

TF WEST OZ's picture
TF WEST OZ's picture
TF WEST OZ commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 1:43am

Interesting , last years event was held in a unique window that saw WA cop an endless solid swell train due to a building southern hemisphere storm track. Maybe and highly likely this was due to the peak of El-nino swinging into effect which created an upwelling of movement in the Indian Ocean and created significant swells through Autumn and moved WA into one of its most offshore Winters for quite some time....I can still count the amount of 40 knot storms on the Cape on one hand. North Point flourishes on years like this and if you ask the locals , most didn't have to travel last year as home delivered the best barrels......North Point seems to just have years like that every now and again when its just keeps on keeping on.

Now we are at the tail end of the 2015–16 El Niño which is weakening, but it will continue to effect south west oz. One wonders if the Autumn tail will bring forward some new solid long range ground swells but with the southern ocean storm track spinning well below normal parallels long period 4-6 ft offshore groundswells are likely to be on the menu over Autumn ( with small lay days in between swells ) so expect to see groomed Margarets & very good Box on tap for the event window....the chances of North Point this year are slim as 2015 was North's year.

As they say Margaret's will have her way ......

Numbatt's picture
Numbatt's picture
Numbatt commented Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016 at 10:52am

2014 was better at Northies.

Sometimes it only breaks twice a year, good luck WruSeL. Good luck getting us out of the water.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 8:10am

no spectators on North Point, have to be down the beach????

which means, no spectators.

How do locals feel about that? Fenced off and kept out of your own break so you can't even watch the show.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 9:33am

Being a spectator on the beach there sounds like a contradiction in terms - bring your binoculars.
What a joke, if that was my local I'd be fuming.
It always amazes me that people support professional/commercial surfing in its current form - arrogant, aggressive and elitist.

Noel's picture
Noel's picture
Noel commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:43pm

checking on google earth gives a viewing distance of about 500 metres from the break at Northpoint back to the beach that I assume they expect the public to be viewing from. I suspect its going to be chaos trying to manage everyone.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 2:16pm

I did the same Noel, jumped straight on Google Earth. I measured it as a bit less but regardless, you'd be doing your damnedest to get up on the headland for a good look. Like you say, how do you police that?
If I lived there there'd be no fucker telling me I couldn't sit on those rocks somewhere which is actually a moot point as I'm not interested in pro surfing but I am interested in commercial interests not preventing access to public areas.

Noel's picture
Noel's picture
Noel commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 3:35pm

I measured from the outside take-off area on the assumption the only reason they will be there is because the swell is maxing. But yeah, regardless, even if we say 400 metres they will be still be black specks, and..... the beach is low level and I know that its hard to see the surfers from there with several walls of whitewash wrapping around on the inside.
I cant see the problem with letting people perch on the rocks on the point, its not as if they are going to wear out the rocks, hey?

wbat's picture
wbat's picture
wbat commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 9:33am

Yes having to watch it from the beach will be a bit of a dud. I understand why but a bit of a fizzer.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 9:56am

Not too many land spectators at Teahupoo or Cloudbreak.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 10:15am

But also not many locals fenced off from their headland - different scenario.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 11:22am

Wally, those breaks are in the middle of the ocean........and there's nothing stopping the Tahitians from mooring up in the channel, which they do.

This has nothing to do with safety, this is about WSL controlling access and preventing people taking photos and videos. It's just another ambit claim from a private US company on Australian crown land.
Be very careful when pro surfing comes knocking on your local door.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 11:49am

Fair points, Tony and freeride.
Similar issue with that Cape Solander event.
I guess with North Point there is a community trade off with tourism promotion for the area. I'm not arguing whether it is right or wrong.

A related question, those WSL towers that sit out on the reef at Teahupoo and Cloudbreak, are they there all the time?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:16pm

yes, they are.

What Pro surfing means in practice, is an apartheid of access, enforced by fence and security against the people who live there.

Is that worth the tourist promotion?

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:40pm

Don't know, but it is very common. What about the millions of hectares of Crown Land leased for agriculture and grazing. Fenced off with access only at the discretion of the leaseholder. And that might be for 99 years, not 2 days a year.

Then there are all the sporting, tourism and numerous other commercial activities operating on long term Exclusive Use leases on Crown Land. Some of these are also fenced off if there is sufficient commercial or public safety justification. All this is pretty normal and the whole direction of legislative change is to make that process easier. As a instance of Crown Land use, this North Point use for 2 days a year is minor in the scheme of things. That does not necessarily mean I would not be pissed off if I was a local.

wbat's picture
wbat's picture
wbat commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:46pm

I reckon it has more to do with parking and not trashing the environment than controling images, maybe.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 1:28pm

so parking down the beach and tramping over the dunes causes less damage than being on the rock headland?

That seems to be a bit nonsensical on the face of it.

I know for a fact that WSL is playing harder and harder at making pro surfing more like NFL- where the surf spot involved becomes the stadium- and access and all content/imagery from there becomes very tightly controlled. This is in fact, their business model.

Little bit different to agricultural leases. The reality of access to pastoral leasehold land in WA- especially coastal landholdings like Quobba, Gnaraloo and Warroora-refutes, not strengthens your argument. Public access is considered a statutory right.

There's also rights of access to coastal/beach areas which go beyond short term commercial interests.

As an example of the direction and speed of movement: 20 years ago at the first Billabong Kirra Pro (which later became the Quiksilver Pro) recreational surfers shared the lineup with pros during the event.
Now the public can't even access the area to spectate.

wally's picture
wally's picture
wally commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 1:44pm

freeride, when you are on a surf trip and you get a great cabin at the caravan park, on crown land, right in front of the beach!, I hope you don't ever lock that cabin when you are out and about. :)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 2:04pm

sorry mate, unless you are talking about locking the front gate so no-one else can get in - a splendid fantasy I'll grant you- I fail to see your point.

The clear trend is for denial of public access to coastal crown land - in this case by an opaque private American company- some might see that as progress, I see it as a disturbing trend.
Made even more disturbing because the mouthpiece for the decision is the head of an organisation supposedly designed to represent the interests of the surfers of that state, not those of an overseas private company.

Question for Mark if reading. Are the public being locked out for safety, environmental reasons? If so, could you provide evidence.
Or are they being locked out at the behest of the WSL?

maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 12:55pm

Can they still surf the box as well?

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 4:14pm

i would imagine the NP locals will be fizzing at getting to watch a bunch of surf brats rule their turf if it cranks. They will all be on e bay ordering binoculars pronto. oh the joys of pro surfing coming to your local.

southey's picture
southey's picture
southey commented Saturday, 19 Mar 2016 at 4:22pm

won't happen as TF said . What's the odds they see another 10-15ft swell two years in a row . Hughie doesn't like the WSL .

" SA's Reserve Capacity "

Bob's 2 Bob's's picture
Bob's 2 Bob's's picture
Bob's 2 Bob's commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 9:43am

Hey Free The tower in Tahiti that WSL leaves on the reef - did it get knocked down last year? I was there in December and checked the great Teahupoo break (only from the land) and there was no tower out there like you say? What happened??

Freeload69

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 1:27pm

Maybe it did Bob, thats news to me , but it must have happened.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 3:50pm

Seabreeze have a pick of the tower about to get engulfed by 8ft of whitewater......they say it gets rebuilt once a year....bamboo construction ?

kaki bibaita

Bob's 2 Bob's's picture
Bob's 2 Bob's's picture
Bob's 2 Bob's commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 4:52pm

That can't be right Udo - Free says WSL leave it up all year - Free is always right.
If we looked now, it would be standing yeah??

Freeload69

Channel bottoms's picture
Channel bottoms's picture
Channel bottoms commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 12:27pm

And the goofy's thought The Box was difficult on their backhand. If it's proper North Point, they goofy's are screwed.

Channel bottoms's picture
Channel bottoms's picture
Channel bottoms commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 12:29pm

Access will be difficult for crowds. Not much space on the rocks, too far from the beach, not much parking maybe 50 spots at South Point and only one lane in and one out. I'm guessing they won't expect or allow too many spectators, just broadcast it back to the event sit at Margs?

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 3:44pm

Joel fitz

caml's picture
caml's picture
caml commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 3:46pm

Won a contest there

Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 4:46pm

The just announced news was in the local paper several months ago. Not sure why they would treat North Point different to Main Break, as they allow spectators on the headland there and don't subject them to the river mouth beach to watch from a distance (surfers point does have some protection to the cliff face and vegetation whereas North Point does not, and this may be reason, although very rocky, vegetation exists for sure). If you go to watch the main break comp there is a small park area at rifle butts, as the point is for officials/competitors vehicles only, and they have a large park area on a paddock at Caves road and bus people in. As previously stated Prevelly is also a one road in town, and during the fires a few years ago some people were moved out by boat as they were stuck, others just slept on the beach. Also during the big swell last year it was one lane traffic into Gracetown as heaps of parked vehicles lined both sides of the road adjacent to North Point, and hundreds were spectating from the point. Maybe if WSL sanctioned this free surf spectacle traffic flow could have been eased (or at least some lolly pop men to control in and out flows would have been handy)! When the guy went missing from Inj not very long ago, channel nine turned up with a van and a relatively small sat dish to do there live feed. Plus I am pretty sure a new comms tower was erected in Gracetown recently.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 4:52pm

Jamyardy wrote: The just announced news was in the local paper several months ago.

Reported incorrectly. A few surf sites also ran the same false story and almost brought the thing undone.

Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy's picture
Jamyardy commented Monday, 21 Mar 2016 at 12:17am

In early December 2015 AMR shire council approved the use of NP as an alternate venue for a maximum period of two days for the drug aware pro , for a trial period in 2016 only. DPAW supported this, caveat was that all required documentation had to be provided 45 days prior to the event.

yehmateyeh's picture
yehmateyeh's picture
yehmateyeh commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 9:03pm

What is it with these guys shitting in their own backyard and trying to sell it as being great for the community?

Yehmateyeh

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 9:46pm

Not the locals that want NP yeahmate re selling out, wsl, pros, audience and I guess the AMR Shire, but dont blame the local surfers. only a minority that want the contest in town at all in general(as prob is in most surfing communities that get kicked out of their lineup for 3 week every years in the best time of the year ). The news of NP was known months ago, Rec Surfers got a told october from memory, I was surprised to see it as a "newsflash" yesterday on SN Stu?, thought it was common knowledge. Prob more chance of the box to feature than norths anyhow in april , hopefully just small windy sse margs with everyone going right as thats what its been like for the last 5 months( not to mention packed) faaark

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 9:57pm

I've been tracking this thing closely for 12 months. Last November was when the WSL jumped the gun and announced it, and also when a few sites ran their press release. I looked into it and it turned out NP hadn't actually been approved. The explanation I got was someone at WSL had "their wires crossed" and there was some terse back and forth. At the time many of the plans hadn't been returned and negotiations were still in the balance. 

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 10:11pm

The bells contest is a little different as you can surf the better wave and watch the event at your leisure. Has always been fun that way and is sometimes remarkably uncrowded.

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 at 10:19pm

Not to put underhanded negotiations past the AMR shire, the shit that goes on here if off the charts, WA INC style,anybody that throws some coin around gets VIPed out to the max be they developers, contest organisers or wine/food tossers. It may have been nov rather than oct but Jim Ross had that info last year Stu, old news.

TF WEST OZ's picture
TF WEST OZ's picture
TF WEST OZ commented Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016 at 1:24am

that he did CAMEL and he did it in style with Antman & Craig " Double Barrel " Holley in fine form....now that was such an epic event. hope ya well mate yew!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016 at 7:03am

Craig Holley, one of Lennox Heads very finest. That guy had the ability to go all the way. Amazing surfer.