Stop No. 2 of the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour—the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro—will take run from April 2–3. Held at Margaret River in Western Australia, the event is now on the World Championship Tour (WCT) schedule after 20 years as a World Qualifying Series (WQS) event. A big, open-ocean wave that breaks both left and right, the world's best will be challenged by the powerful surf and local wildlife (i.e., sharks) that can be spotted from time to time at Margaret's "Main Break," which is where the competition will be held. Both the men and women of the ASP World Tour will be competing in the Drug Aware Pro, and here are five you should keep an eye on while they surf the big, shifting peaks of Margaret River.
"I'm really excited to see that the event has gone from a Prime [qualifying] to a World Tour [WCT] event," said local resident and World Tour standout Taj Burrow to the ASP. And he should be. Burrow gets to sleep in his own bed and eat his mum's cooking, and he has an innate sense of the lineup and conditions at Margaret River. Then again, all the creature comforts of home won't mean anything if he succumbs to the pressure of being the hometown favorite.
After finishing the season-opening Roxy Pro in the semifinals, look for 2013 ASP world champion and defending Drug Aware champ Carissa Moore to rebound in Western Australia. With big, powerful surf the norm at Margaret River, Moore's North Shore training and hard-charging style of surfing should pay dividends and get her back on track for a repeat of last year's success.
Margaret River is one of the few places on the World Tour where Kelly Slater hasn't won. Between that and having his windows waxed while surfing on the Gold Coast of Australia, Slater could be surfing pissed off, which spells trouble for the rest of the field.
After winning the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, Brazil's Gabriel Medina sits atop the World Championship Tour rankings. "I've never done well there, but Western Australia has great waves," he said to the ASP in a recent press release. "I have never been in the ratings lead before, so I'm just going to focus on surfing my best and getting some more experience in Margaret River before the event starts," he added. Getting to Margaret River early is a good idea for the young Brazilian: It's an incredibly tricky lineup to read and much different than Snapper Rocks, where he won last.
John John Florence
After a disappointing start to the season, John John Florence has to be champing at the bit to get back in a jersey and redeem himself—and Margaret River is a great place for him to do so. The big, open-ocean peaks suit his North Shore of Oahu–bred style of surfing perfectly, and anything less that a quarterfinals appearance would have to be considered a letdown. If JJF is going to be chasing a world title in 2014, he'll need a solid result in the early part of the season. John John won the 2012 Telstra Drug Aware pro 2012, what’s stopping from doing so in 2012. Check the highlight video from that event below:
The Drug Aware Pro will run on the best days of surf between April 2–13. Watch all the action live at aspworldtour.com. See below for betting odds…