The world surfing tour is trying to wrap its head around the moment a Hawaiian star had moment of madness at the Margaret River Pro.
An untelevised free surf session at the Margaret River Pro over the weekend has become the talk of the surfing world after Aussie Matthew Willcox became involved in a heated scuffle.
Getting in some practice before the opening round of heats at the Western Australian break, Willcox suddenly found himself cutting back and fourth with Ezekiel Lau after the Hawaiian star appeared to drop in on him.
The situation quickly reached boiling point in the water and it has continued on dry land with Willcox claiming his 28-year-old adversary acted like a “grub” in the moments that followed their initial physical run in.
Here’s what happened.
A viral video of the exchange shows the pair repeatedly getting in each other’s way as they surfed the same wave with both at different points needing to pull up to avoid contact.
It ended with Lau appearing to pull out by leaning back and letting his board shoot out towards Willcox.
The board appeared to strike the local talent, who was then sent soaring into the air.
Willcox was captured on video swimming over to Lau after the incident where they could be seen exchanging some tense words.
They eventually paddled their separate ways as they returned to the line-up.
That was not the end of it.
Willcox has told Stab Mag he told Lau at the time that he is a “bully”.
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“Bagging him out on the internet isn’t how I like to deal with s***, but this is an honest review of the situation and the video speaks for itself,” he said,
“We had some good words in the water, and I had the chance to tell him what I thought and vice versa. At one point he said that ‘it was enough’.
“I said, ‘Okay, shake my hand and it’s done’. He splashed water at me like a grub and that really pissed me off.
“Imagine if it was the other way around — me in Hawaii, dropping in on him then flicking my board at his head… f*** me, it would be a different story. He’s dropped in on and snaked me at Sunset and Haleiwa (in Hawaiia) and I’ve just put my head down and copped it. I have respect — I know that it’s his zone and I respect that. I know my place in the line-up. We even had a heat in 2019 at Sunset where he ducked behind me and jammed his board into the top of my foot. It cut my foot up and I copped that too.
“In the surf, he is a bully and not used to anyone standing up to him. I told him I’m not scared and I’ve had enough.”
Lau also told the publication that Willcox had “snaked him” because the Aussie says they have a history together.
“He snaked me after I was waiting out at the peak at Main Break for 40min,” he said.
And he said he did that because I did the same thing to him in Hawaii. But I don’t remember meeting this kid in my life. I guess this is just his way of demanding some respect. But I’m just here trying to do my job and keep my spot on tour.”
Willcox, a wildcard entrant, was eliminated in the elimination round over the weekend. Lau was beaten by Jordy Smith in the Round of 32.
The event has been delayed by poor conditions in recent days with the Round of 16 still yet to be held.