The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro was halted suddenly earlier today after sharks and other large fish were spotted swimming around the line up.
The incident occurred half way through Filipe Toledo and Kolohe Andino’s semi-final match up, with visible disturbances in the surface of water near where the competitors were sat signalling the pair were not alone in the line up. Ricardo Toledo, Filipe’s dad, had been watching the heat intently and could be overheard expressing his concern about the potential presence of sharks amongst the shoal.
The water safety team already had a close eye on the activity, and undoubtedly nervous about history repeating itself, zipped over to the competitors, hauled them onto their skis and delivered them back to the beach. “It was gnarly out there” commented Toledo, once safely back on dry land, “you don’t want to be out there when you’re bleeding!” he continued, pointing to a gash in his foot. John John had also cut himself on the reef in the heat before, undoubtedly leaving a little of his blood in the line up.
“We saw all these splashes and I don’t think either of us could really surf after that,” Kolohe told Fox Sports.
“I paddled over and said ‘I think there’s sharks out here’. I saw so many fish swimming under me and I know the big fish follow the small fish. They said we could go on hold and I said ‘OK’, because I couldn’t really think.”
Whilst no one was keen to use the S word, both Strider Wasilewski and a photographer who had been on the back of one of the skis confirmed that they had seen some sharks. “It was a feeding frenzy out there” Strider commented, stating that it was mainly tuna feeding on salmon, however he did confirm when prompted that there were some sharks present. He also said that due to the mass of fish “It would have been an accident if they’d bitten someone out there, but we don’t want that accident.”
After half an hour of a helicopter patrolling overhead, the line up was deemed safe enough for the competitors to return and the heat resumed. Kolohe Andino looked like the break had done him good, quickly replacing a previously meagre heat total with two solid scores. Filipe too, looked razor sharp, however the judges gave the nod to Kolohe in the final exchange, advancing him through to battle for the title.
After another short break Kolohe faced off against John John Florence in the final, who continued the unparalleled level of dominance he’s carried with him all event, notching up a whopping 19.03 heat total and securing one of the most well deserved victories in CT history.
All photos Luke Gartside