Owen Wright is the 2019 Tahiti Pro champion. He stopped the runaway train Gabriel ‘Machina’ Medina who flattened everyone in his path on the way to finals day. But it was the Ozzie giant who once again showed the world that he belongs in the title race conversation, not as a feel good story as to what it is he’s had to overcome to fight his way back into contention, but as one of the world’s best competitive components.
I’ll leave the data crunching, mathematics and match ups at ‘The End Of The Road’. We know the results, let’s rather look at some of the emotional and personal gains and losses left in the wake of the 2019 Tahiti Pro.
Is Owen Wright Professor Xavier?
In the X-Men franchise Professor Xavier uses Cerebro, a teched out helmet that connects him to other mutants, to find them and communicate with them.
I doubt the helmet Owen wore throughout the event was packing any sci-fi tech that allowed him to communicate with the mutant waves that rolled through at Chopes but it certainly appeared that it was able to shut out any white noise, allowing him to focus on his opponent and communicate by sending and sharing critical data like, ‘I just scored a 9.17 under your priority, bitch’.
Which is exactly what Wright did to Medina in the final to win the whole damn thing. All event it was Gabriel who turned the priority screws on his opponents, forcing them to make mistakes under his watch. To see Owen do it in the final with such predatory, ruthless efficiency against the ultimate cyborg mutant ‘Machina’ Medina was super hero stuff. But considering that Professor Xavier is a short bald man confined to a wheel chair, well that’s where the super hero comparison ends.
Helmet or no helmet, the 6’3″ long haired Wright is exactly where he belongs, a man unafraid of mutant waves and back in the world title hunt.
Jordy Smith is just fine in big lefts thank you very much.
If controlling 8 to 10ft death pits at The End Of The road signifies your intentions to slam the door shut clean in the face of your critics, Jordy Smith didn’t just slam it shut, the hinges flew off and the whole damn frame came tumbling down. All event Smith pushed hard, knifing some terrifying drops and getting rewarded with big numbers against some worthy opponents. Smith has proven beyond doubt that any weaknesses he had in the heavy water lefts is long gone. You could see he was chasing waves down, never once letting the situation or moment over awe him. Clearly buying the house in Hawaii has made waves like Chopes feel a little like his backyard.
If Jordy can keep up the momentum at the Wave Ranch and prepare well for the European leg, I think even he would admit that his work there needs some polishing, he could very well chase down his maiden world title at Pipeline and celebrate the win at his new home a few feet away.
The Brazilian stock is up and down.
Filipe Toledo’s world title value went south and 2015 World Champion Adriano de Souza’s stock went north in a big way. The rest of the Brazilian market had mixed results. Like Toledo, Italo Ferreira’s world title charge needs a healthy return in Europe and considering that the Brazilian WSL surfing economy is the strongest in the world, I expect all of them to rally hard at the wave pool and in Europe.
For me, the value of Adriano’s 9 point ride against Italo in Round 1 was immeasurable for putting his career back on track. That was the best surfed ‘pressure’ wave of the year. No doubt. Expect the Brazilian storm to hit back hard and throw some people around at the Wave Ranch.
Will Owen wear a helmet at the Wave Ranch? How about a return to form from the GOAT? Will Jordy take out the win? What are the chances of The Raconteurs playing a Blink 182 cover?
I’ll be there replacing my couch for a lilo, and as always, look forward to your company.