As Of Today, Owen Wright Is A Title Contender
It’s hard to think of a more daunting task than taking on Mick Fanning at head-high Snapper after a year on the disabled list.
The Snapper crowd is a knowledgeable one and they treated Owen with respect as he returned to the beach following his round three victory over hometown hero, Mick Fanning. First contact was Rip Curl team manager, Ryan Fletcher followed by coach, Glen ‘Micro’ Hall, for a quick debrief before he fronted the media. He barely acknowledged the crowd, likely assuming everyone gets a reception like this when they return to the press area, but they don’t.
The clock had just struck 7:30 am on Saturday morning meaning only the hardened surf fans were on hand for the win. Fanning might be the local celebrity, but no one was begrudging Owen–they welcomed him back like a war hero.
“Mick and I really wanted that battle. You could see we were going wave for wave. I made a couple of mistakes trying to hit the section too hard and falling off but when the heat was over we were best mates,” he said.
The round three victory marked his second World Tour heat win since suffering a severe brain injury at Pipeline in November 2015. During which time some reports have suggested he has been forced to relearn the bulk of his surfing abilities. Just how long and arduous that road to recovery has been, for the time being, remains a mystery. On the ground, The World Surf League continues to ban all other media from talking to Owen, other than their people. When asked on the broadcast about the extent of his hardships, he was elusive, describing it as a “rollercoaster.”
“For 11 months I was a little bit caught up in it, it was a rollercoaster,” he said.
“And then the last since November it’s started to click into gear and I’ve started working on things. There are so many little things that have come together to get my head right and process everything that’s happened and all the changes and beautiful things in my life – my little baby boy, my partner, and Tyler winning a world title. So many good things have happened. It’s been awesome, ” he said.
It’s hard to think of a more daunting task than taking on Mick Fanning at head-high Snapper following a year-long sabbatical in which the three-time world champ had scored some of the best waves ever seen. Owen revealed afterwards they were in regular contact during their respective lay-offs, where both were forced to overcome some serious trauma (Mick’s year off riding on the back of a shark attack, the death of his brother, and a split in his marriage).
“When the heat was over we were best mates,” said Owen. “We went through a year off together and now we’re back here; we just love competing. That was the talk at the end. I couldn’t have won the heat from a better a bloke.”
Friendship didn’t count for much in the heat, however. After dropping an 8.10 early, mostly on account of a vicious hanger on a hollow portion of Snapper’s wall, Owen showed that the time away had done little to blunt his tactics as he suffocated Mick out of the heat with his use of priority. The strategic mastermind of Owen’s past, is back. Beating Mick Fanning on a day like this at Snapper suggests this is more than a than a feel-good comeback story.
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