Here’s some things Owen Wright thinks today:
Interview by Rusty Quinn | Photos by Mark Croker It’s no secret that Owen Wright’s been noticeably absent from the podium this year. But, don’t count him out just yet. After being sidelined by a back injury for much of 2013, Owen snagged himself a 2014 World Tour injury wildcard. And while his results haven’t […]
Interview by Rusty Quinn | Photos by Mark Croker
It’s no secret that Owen Wright’s been noticeably absent from the podium this year. But, don’t count him out just yet. After being sidelined by a back injury for much of 2013, Owen snagged himself a 2014 World Tour injury wildcard. And while his results haven’t been great on paper, this sleeping giant is slowly finding his rhythm. As the straps loosen after three events on his backhand, Owen is desperate for the leg space some spacious Fijian funnels will afford. In his first correspondence with Stab since, like, forever, Owen jams on the road to recovery, false hope, and what keeps him up at night…
Stab: Tell me about your Rio performance?
Owen: I didn’t surf that well. It’s a tricky wave. Brazil didn’t really favour anyone. It was anyone’s game. High seeds were dropping like flies. I went out there with the idea of doing turns and airs, but guys were getting scored for two turns. So it made for a bit higher risk. You’d get a few dumpy ones and get bounced off, and I didn’t make a couple of airs. But I couldn’t really succumb to just finishing the wave with a turn. In hindsight, I should have.
Has Stella got her groove back since the injury last year? I feel like I started to hit my groove at Bells and the results showed. But Brazil didn’t show how I’m truly feeling. I definitely feel that I’m back in the groove now. I think in different places my surfing is closer to being 100 percent again. I feel like my backside is better than it was. We’ve had three righthanders this year and Rio wasn’t crash hot, but I definitely feel like I’ve made improvements. We’re finally going to go left, so hopefully I can show what I’ve been putting my time towards.
What did you learn during your stint away from the jerseys and judges? My time off was lots of mixed things. I had an injury, but that was combined with lots of different personal matters. I got to watch my sister compete and enjoy her getting really close to a world title. I was also watching a lot of the guys compete and it was really evident that the top guys were still the top guys, and no one was making an indent in that. Parko, Mick, Kelly and Taj were all still up there. It was a wake up call. Even though there are a lot of guys scratching at it, they’re not quite there. But you’ve got to take your hat off to those guys and give them that respect. I’m still learning myself. Once I put my finger on it hopefully I become that top guy.
It’s scary being cut down at the top of your game. It’s a brutal end to life as you know, and my injury dragged out for a lot longer than I was hoping it would. But when I look back at it now, I didn’t need to be worried about it at all. There were a few months where I thought I was going to be right for the next event because I didn’t have the right diagnosis, but it would’ve been much easier to know that I wasn’t going to be surfing for a year. Once the recovery process started and I was told that I wasn’t going to be surfing until next season, that’s when I stopped worrying about the next event and moved on.
Owen has just purchased a house in Gerringong on the NSW South Coast and will be spending a lot more time in barres like this at Blackrock. Photo: Mark Croker
Numerous tour surfers have told us that outside of the jersey, you’re The Man at the moment. But, business end finishes have been scarce at each event for you. Where’s your head at? That hasn’t played a big part in my mental recovery. Brazil was an average result and the start of the year was average, but even if I get a bad result, I feel like I’m gaining momentum at every event and hopefully I can continue that. I haven’t had that effect of, ‘Oh I’ve lost’, even though I have lost (laughs).
What keeps you up at night? It’s more things like family and personal matters that are worrying me at the moment, not surfing. I’ve got a lot of things in place to make those improvements. I’ve been working a lot with Matt Griggs and he’s been helping me out with technique and competing. But getting the rest of my life in order has been the thing that’s keeping me up at night. Griggsy has been great because he’s been really honest with me, in terms of what I need to work on and how to get back on the podiums. It’s been good to hear some brutally honest stuff.
How brutal? He’s made me aware of the fact that I need to keep improving and keep learning. He helped me realize that I was repeating the same thing and expecting the same result. I used to work with a different coach who didn’t have much to do with surfing, so it’s no doubt that my surfing got left off. I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvements now.
What do you think about during a heat? Good question. A lot of the time I’m just thinking about the next wave, but sometimes the most random thing could pop into your head, whether it’s a memory from a night out or a random song.
What is your weakness when it comes to food? Given your torso, we’re assuming you’re quite strict. It’s always nice to have a good packet of chips now and then or a block of chocolate. I don’t hold back on that. I’m a fiend for chips. Like those Red Rock Deli ones, especially honey soy chicken – I could eat them all day.
Who’s the standout on tour this year? Mick. He’s so mentally fierce. Along with Kelly and Parko. In terms of surfing I’d say Julian and Jordy. But as you’ve seen, the results don’t show that. Michel has won two events and you can’t ignore that. He’s been very impressive. But my eyes have been on Julian and Jordy.
How are you gonna play it in Fiji? Just get pitted. I’m excited to get barreled. But I’d have to say I watched Kelly pretty closely last year and he is the master out there. He goes quicker than everyone else. The tour is hotly contested these days. Everyone knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to each wave on tour. But I think it was the opposite in Brazil. Nobody knew what they were doing and it just showed in the results. There was no telling who was going to win.
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