The Wright stuff
Australian looks to add to her championship season at Maui Pro at Honolua Bay
HONOLUA — Tyler Wright will be trying to make a great year even better.
Wright, this year’s World Surf League women’s champion, is part of the field for the Maui Pro at Honolua Bay, the 10th and final stop on the tour.
The holding period starts today and runs through Dec. 6.
“Honolua Bay is one of the best waves on tour by far,” the 22-year-old Australian said Tuesday. “All we need is waves and we have one of the best comps.”
The women’s pro tour is including an event at Honolua for the 14th time. The Billabong Pro ran from 1999 to 2009, and the Target Maui Pro was held in 2014 and 2015, with Oahu’s Carissa Moore winning both — she eliminated Wright along the way each time.
Wright, who has won four events and finished second in two others this year, hired a coach for the first time 10 months ago, bringing in Glen “Micro” Hall, a former WSL competitor.
“I never had a coach before,” said Wright, who had finished as the tour runner-up twice in the previous three years. “I learned a lot, I’m continuing to learn a lot. I couldn’t be happier.
“I never delved into the world of competitive surfing that much. I generally just surfed heats for whatever waves I caught. He brought another whole side that I never really looked at, the competitive side and analytical side that I enjoy very much.”
Wright said that she “always had strong mental game,” and this year, she has had to maintain focus as her older brother, Owen, recovers after being seriously injured in big surf at Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore last winter.
Owen was still in world title contention when he was hurt in a practice session. He hasn’t been able to compete on the WSL this year.
“The competing side was very simple for me,” Wright said. “He definitely had a tough personal year. He’s my brother and I love him. He’s doing really good so that’s all I really care about.”
The Maui Pro comes two weeks after the Peahi Challenge big-wave contest, which included a women’s event this year — Maui’s Paige Alms won the title
“It was so incredible, so inspiring,” Wright said. “She’s leading the way in the big-wave world. She does it in a way where it’s a calculated risk and reward. I’m so happy for her that she got to perform on that stage. We couldn’t have a better representative in big-wave surfing right now.”
Wright said she might someday be seen surfing Peahi.
“Whether I’ll ever be in that physical or mental state is another question,” she said. “One day I’d like to.”
The field at Honolua also includes Moore, who won her third world title last year, and six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia.
Wright’s first-round heat at Honolua will also include Bianca Buitendag of South Africa, and the winner of the trials heat. The trials heat competitors are Maui’s Summer Macedo, the 2015 International Surfing Association under-16 world champion, Kauai’s Bethany Hamilton and Oahu’s Mahina Maeda and Brisa Hennessy.