Gilmore’s Margaret River shark safety tick

Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore says she has no fears about competing at the Margaret River Pro this week despite last year's nearby shark attacks.

The 2018 Margaret River Pro was called off midway through the competition after two non-fatal shark attacks on recreational surfers nearby.

Alejandro Travaglini needed surgery to both legs after he was attacked at Cobblestones beach in Gracetown, while Jason Longgrass walked to an ambulance after he was bitten on the leg at nearby Lefthanders break.

Extra safety measures have been installed for this year's event, which is due to start on Wednesday.

A shark-spotting drone will be used for the first time at the event, while the WA Fisheries Department will drop an acoustic receiver in the water each day to detect any tagged sharks swimming nearby.

The event was moved from mid-April to late May/early June in order to avoid the annual salmon run.

Gilmore is happy with the measures that have been put in place. "In the event, I've never felt unsafe," Gilmore said.

"I actually feel safer when the contest is on because there are so many things put in place to make sure we feel comfortable.

"We've got the big fisheries boats, we've got extra jet skis, there's drones constantly watching.

"That's actually the best time to surf – during the event.

"And now that we're out of the salmon season, I think it will be quieter for sure."

Last year, two-time world champion Gabriel Medina expressed fears about entering the water at Margaret River immediately after the shark attacks.

But the Brazilian has put those fears aside and will compete again this year.

For Gilmore, her love of surfing far outweighs the small risks of encountering sharks.

"Us surfers, we go out there every day risking that, and we do it because we love the sport, we love being out here surfing," Gilmore said.

"I feel like all surfers, we have such a respect for the ocean and all the creatures in it.

"We are surfing in their home, so we have to be prepared for these sorts of things.

"But at the same time, that's a part of surfing. That's what makes it unique and beautiful and thrilling and scary – all these things rolled into one. That's why we love it so much."

Gilmore enters the event in hot form after taking out the Bali Pro courtesy of a 10-point ride in the final.

The 31-year-old currently sits on top of the world rankings, ahead of American duo Caroline Marks and Courtney Conlogue.

Two-time world champion John John Florence currently leads the men's rankings despite his 17th-placed finish in Bali.


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