Local surfers Jerome Forrest (Margaret River) and Bronte Macaulay (Gracetown) have triumphed against challenging conditions and some of WA’s best surfers at the 2023 Think Mental Health WA Trials, securing their positions into the upcoming Margaret River Pro, the fifth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
After multiple days of heavy rain and strong and gusty onshore winds, conditions eased today with 4-5 feet swells on offer at Surfers Point, which testing the field of 24 surfers (12 males and 12 females), who impressed in front of a strong crowd of surf fans that packed in to see the action.
Margaret River Boardriders President and Club Champion Jerome Forrest will surf in his maiden Championship Tour event, after an impressive display that saw him surf five times to take the win in the men’s division ahead of Yallingup’s Jack Thomas.
Displaying exquisite technique and great wave selection throughout the day, Forrest posted a combined heat total of 10.40 (out of a possible 20), in the final, overcoming Jack Thomas (Yallingup), who finished on a combined total of 4.47 (from a possible 20).
“I’m absolutely stoked, I’ve been trying to get into the Pro for a long time,” said Forrest. “I haven’t competed in the Trials for three years, and I was a little bit nervous coming up against the younger surfers in the draw.”
“Solid onshore Margs brought out the best in me today and I stoked to come away with the win,” he continued. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, life has changed a bit for me since I last competed in this event and to surf from the first round through to the final is something pretty special.”
Despite a second place finish Yallingup’s Jack Thomas will also qualify for the main event after the shock announcement that defending Margaret River Pro champion Jack Robinson (Margaret River), has withdrawn from the event due to a knee injury sustained at Bells Beach last week.
“The Trials is a tough gig and to make it through to the Pro for the second year in a row is such a great feeling,” said Thomas. “I’m super stoked and I feel like I’ve learned so much from that experience last year, I’ve got nothing to lose and know I’ve just got to go for it.”
On the Women’s side of the draw, former Championship Tour surfer Bronte Macaulay (Gracetown) claimed final wildcard position in the Margaret River Pro with a closely fought victory over rising star Ruby Berry (Augusta).
Macaulay locked in a 6.00 (from a possible 10), in the dying moments of the final to finish just 0.27 ahead of Berry when the final siren sounded. Macaulay who won the QS5000 event in Newcastle recently will come into the Margaret River Pro with a point to prove as she seeks to requalify for the elite women’s ranks again in 2024.
“I’m really excited to get into the event and I had a bit of a shocker out there, but found one good wave at the end and got really lucky to sneak ahead of Ruby who was in great rhythm with the ocean all day,” said Macaulay. “I just want to go as far into the event as I can and without the pressure of the mid season cut over my head I think I’m free to do my best surfing.”
Ruby Berry showed all the signs of a future champion and at just 15 years of age, she displayed all the characteristics of a future World Championship Tour surfer.
“It was pretty cool to string together a few heats in a row and make the final against Bronte, hopefully next year I can go one step further,” said Berry. “I grew up surfing this wave and it takes a while to figure out the lineup and I’m just thrilled to have made it as far as I have today.”
The Think Mental Health WA Trials provides an unparalleled opportunity for local surfers to compete against the world’s best surfers. The 37th Margaret River Pro, the fifth stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), will be held from 20th April to the 30th April 2023, with four West Australian’s set to compete including Jacob Willcox, Jerome Forrest, Jack Thomas and Bronte Macaulay.
You can keep up to date with all the Margaret River Pro action by following Surfing WA’s social media platforms or by checking out www.surfingwa.com.au
Further information on the Margaret River Pro can be found at: www.worldsurfleague.com
Think Mental Health WA Trials Male Invitees:
Ben Spence (Margaret River)
Jack Thomas (Yallingup)
Alex McGuffin (Margaret River)
Jesse Siedmiogrodzki (City Beach)
Max Marsden (Geraldton)
Finn Cox (Margaret River)
Maverick Wilson (Dunsborough)
Fletcher Llanwarne (Duncraig)
Macklin Flynn (Cowaramup)
Jerome Forrest (Margaret River)
Duke Nagtzaam (Yallingup)
Fletcher Llanwarne (Duncraig)
Think Mental Health WA Trials Female Invitees:
Bronte Macaulay (Gracetown)
Willow Hardy (Margaret River)
Coral Durant (Red Bluff)
Isi Campbell (Denmark)
Ruby Berry (Augusta)
Kate McKenzie (Geraldton)
Claire Bevilacqua (Yallingup)
Emma Cattlin (Yallingup)
Olive Hardy (Margaret River)
Francesca May (Margaret River)
Kaleisha Launders (Margaret River)
Willow Hines (Margaret River)
About Think Mental Health:
The Think Mental Health education campaign is part of a comprehensive approach in Western Australia that aims to build mental health and wellbeing and reduce mental health issues with a view to reducing Western Australia’s suicide rate. The Think Mental Health education campaign’s focus is on assisting the Western Australian community to connect with the best information, support and services for their particular situation, without duplicating the good work already being done. For more information be sure to checkout: www.thinkmentalhealthwa.com.au