Tyler Wright exploded onto the Championship Tour scene at the age of 14, becoming the youngest person ever to win a CT event. After becoming a full-fledged tour surfer, she proceeded to smoke the competition, finishing World No. 4 during her first year on Tour, which netted her the Rookie of the Year honor. Amid the fanfare, it was only natural that there were high hopes for her future as a World Champion.
And this year, she might actually do it.
Season after season, Tyler has been surfing phenomenally well, finishing in the Top 5 or better without breaking a sweat. Yet despite two runner-up finishes, until this year, Tyler has been considered more of an outsider when it came to title contention. Yes, she was mathematically within striking distance, and her raw talent was unquestionably there, but she was fiery ball of uncontainable energy.
Enter her new coach, Glenn “Micro” Hall.
Suddenly, Wright is winning, and winning consistently. She has won three of six events so far this season, putting her at the front of the pack.
She’s the bonafide front-runner now, and the World Title is well within her grasp if she can maintain the focus she’s demonstrated this season. Sure, that sounds easy, but it’s far from it. Behind the scenes, Wright has been navigating an emotional minefield. On the home front her older brother, Owen, is still enduring a long recovery after suffering a severe brain injury at Pipe last December. Tyler’s been dealing with many of the questions because she’s the one in the public eye.
Then there’s her life out on the road. And on tour, she’s not the only one with her eyes on the prize. In fact, as No. 1, she’s the one with the target on her back.
Californian Courtney Conlogue is still in hot pursuit. Focus has never been an issue for Conlogue. She’s arguably the most driven woman in surfing. But after last year’s emotional roller coaster race, she’s gained some perspective on the journey, and that’s helping her enjoy this year’s ups and downs.
Along with Conlogue, there’s reigning world champion Carissa Moore, who arrives at Lower Trestles lurking dangerously in the No. 3 spot. She trails Wright by more than 6,000 points, but has the strongest track record of any other woman at Lowers.
Finally, Kauai’s Tatiana Weston-Webb will arrive at Trestles with a little more than 35,000 points — less than an event win away from overtaking Wright. Not only is Weston-Webb confident, tactical and tenacious, she’s also fresh off of her her first win on CT, at the US Open of Surfing.
As for spoilers, they’re everywhere, including Johanne Defay, Bianca Buitendag, and Lakey Peterson, who’s been looking sharp since coming back from her ankle injury. But none are as dangerous as 6x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore.
Source: worldsurfleague.com / Author: Anna Dimond