Stab Magazine | Crippled And Qualified: The Untold Story Of Mikey Wright’s 2018 Season

Live Now: How Surfers Get Paid — The Queens of Ascension

10 Views

Crippled And Qualified: The Untold Story Of Mikey Wright’s 2018 Season

“Some days, I fucking didn’t want to get up. There were days where I didn’t want to do anything, because I was just in a heap of pain.”

style // Apr 3, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

“I stopped dead on the fucking reef. I didn’t slide. Just went dunk and got pushed into it.”

In February 2018 at the Volcom Pipe Pro, Mikey Wright swung late on an unmakable one during his heat. His fins slid and the wave sent him plunging to the bottom. He removed himself from the event… this you may know.

What you might not know is that that wave destroyed the youngest Wright. The result: a crippling concussion, pain in his elbow and pelvis so bad he couldn’t leave the couch or bed at some points. The injuries lingered throughout the remainder of 2018 – the same year he qualified for the big show through wildcard bids.

“When I first hit the bottom [at Pipe], I was almost knocked out. It was just all blur, I couldn’t really see,” Mikey tells Stab. “I wanted to freak out because I was fucking underwater and I had no breath. But I just tried to keep calm.

“I was kind of just full on adrenaline and I just didn’t think anything when I popped up. I was like, ‘I’m fine,’ and I just grabbed my board and started paddling. My elbow, my whole right side and my hip were killing me.

“After the event was finished, I was trying to go out and surf but I couldn’t get off the couch. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was like, ‘Fuck, I’m going to at least try to surf.’ I got in the water and couldn’t do anything. I thought, ‘I’m not supposed to be out here.’”

01 8
02 4

A combination of raw Hawaiian power, raw Hawaiian reef, and raw Australian charging (they type that’s won over so many hearts for the youngest Wright) led Mikey to a quietly injury-plagued 2018 season.

“Some days, I fucking didn’t want to get up. There were days where I didn’t want to do anything, because I was just in a heap of pain,” he says. “In J-Bay, my girlfriend was actually putting on my shoes and socks for me, and helping me dress, because I couldn’t actually touch my feet, or even get anywhere near them. During Ballito, I was getting up and going surfing before anyone was awake just because I didn’t want anyone to see me. That was when it was the worst.”

As a spectator, you never would have known that Mikey was hurt. It was his most successful competitive run to date, and by all quantifiable metrics his surfing was remarkable.

For a long time, Mikey was the “freesurfer” of the Wright lineage – not quite a black sheep, but also not the competitive weapon of his older siblings (the talent, however, obviously present). While Owen and Tyler have had serious competitive success (followed by season- and, for both Tyler and Owen, potentially-career-crippling ailments), Mikey’s eight wildcard slots of 2018 (and eight solid finishes) garnered him a place on the CT roster for 2019.

His 2018 debut, a World Champ assassin.

At the Quik Pro, in Rounds Two and Three, Mikey left the returning World Champ, John Florence, and 2018 World Champ, Gabs Medina in a trail of blood, taking his divine railwork straight to their throats. 

“Right before the Quiky Pro, I got back being able to move. I could touch a bit further than my kneecaps when trying to touch my toes. I was still dealing with post-concussion from when I hit the bottom. Like I was maybe getting an hour of sleep a night, and waking up in sweats. But I was back to being able to move and stuff. After the Quiky pro, I couldn’t train. Pretty much from then on, I was in constant pain.”

03 2
307

At some point, Mikey stopped surfing out of the singlet. It hurt too much. While he was having a hell of a wildcard run, causing many of the top gents to complain about his perma-wildcard status. Outside of the jersey, he was hurting. Unless it was a comp, he wasn’t in the water. And for each of his solid finishes, he was going in cold.

“I couldn’t surf the way I wanted to,” he says. “I think that’s why in France [where Mikey knew he could qualify for the CT] I just went, ‘Fuck it, I’m going to have fun again.’ It’s the end of the year and I’m going to be taking the rest of the year off to get better. I was actually surfing hard, and going for airs again. That’s why I was going for them against Julian in the Quarterfinals [he lost by less than a point].

“That was the last heat I surfed and the last time I surfed until about three weeks ago,” Mikey continues. “Now I just want to start bringing back the airs, back to the 100 percent side of things, instead of surfing at like 80 to 70 percent…”

Having to hold back and surf ‘safe’ turned Mikey into a competitive ace, however. The gent who’s known for rushing each section with like a bull who saw red and tossing himself over the ledge on the latest, most mutant of shelves, suddenly found himself forced to use his rail.

“Last year was a good warm up,” he says. “I got my surfing down to where I could go turn-to-turn. The way I surfed before would be to wait for the section. If there was a good section at the end of the wave, I’d wait the whole time and get as much speed as possible and hit it. I was just learning. Learning new ways of surfing.

“Last year was almost good that I was injured. I was focusing on things that I needed to be, focusing on making heats and putting a line together rather than going extreme.”

06 1

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Swell’s En Route, Slater’s Involved, Here Comes Teahupo’o… 

A Tahiti Pro preview.

May 22, 2024

Can Medina Overcome His CT Drought In Tahiti?

Tahurai Henry offers his picks for the SHISEIDO Tahiti Pro

May 21, 2024

The 35 Best Song Pairings In Surf Films, As Ranked By Dane Reynolds, Taylor Steele & You

From Noa Deane and Courtney Love, to Andy Irons and Coldplay, to Creed McTaggart and…

May 20, 2024

Is This The Most Cost Efficient Way To Noticeably Improve Your Surfing In A Single Month?

All you can eat for $1500 AUD at URBNSURF Melbourne.

May 20, 2024

Watch And Learn: How To Score A Solo Sesh At 8-Foot Teahupo’o With Leonardo Fioravanti

Skip lunch and gorge.

May 19, 2024

Full Frame: The Story Behind The Photo You’ve Seen 1,000 Times

A viral ménage à trois in Bali.

May 18, 2024

Meet The Man Who Runs Kelly Slater’s Burgeoning Surf Empire

The Stab Interview with Dylan Slater. 

May 18, 2024

How Surfers Get Paid: Season 2, Episode 4

80+ interviews later, it's time to "send out the chicks".

May 17, 2024

How To Get To Stab High Japan

BYO ligaments. 

May 16, 2024

CT Earlybirds, Tahitian Warlords, And Aspirational Teenagers Divide Spoils From “11 out of 10” Teahupo’o Blob

Eimeo Czermak, Balaram Stack, Liam O'Brien, Cannon Carr, and Ryan Miller divulge tales from the…

May 16, 2024

The Lefts Off The Rights

Detailing the goofy-footed proclivity to go against the grain.

May 15, 2024

Watch: ‘Shotgun’ featuring Josie Prendergast & Taj Richmond

The allure of contradiction, displayed in the virtue of Northern Rivers sand.

May 15, 2024

How Accurate Were Our Pre-Cut Predictions?

Reflecting on the rookie-centric forecasts offered by CJ Hobgood, Stace Galbraith, Brett Simpson, and Mikey…

May 14, 2024

Local Wildcard Jordy Lawler Dusts 79 Transplants, Issy Nichols Denies Prodigy Erin Brooks Another Plush Toy

The Stab High winner is one semi-final away from tour qualification after only two events.

May 14, 2024

Which 2024 Stab High Competitor Has Given Us The Best Surf Part?  

Noa Deane, Chippa Wilson, Julian Wilson, Ian Crane and more duel for the most impactful…

May 13, 2024

There Are Still Perfect, Empty Waves Left In The World

Soli Bailey, Timo Simmers + Layne Stratton on the sand-bottomed unicorn seen in ‘Maps to…

May 13, 2024

What Happened To Bali?

And is an ethical future for surf development possible in Indonesia?

May 12, 2024

Premium Peek: Mason Ho + Sheldon Paishon Vs A Scottish Widow Maker

Less like a wave, more like a German Panzer tank (180 tons, FYI).

May 12, 2024
Advertisement