COOLANGATTA, Queensland/Australia (Wednesday, August 15, 2012) – Last year’s Billabong Pro Tahiti runner-up Owen Wright (AUS), 22, has returned to French Polynesia fresh from fine-tuning his left hand tube riding in Bali, and is ready to repeat last year’s heroics. In 2011 Tahiti was a breakthrough event for Wright and was his first of three back-to-back Finals appearances and this could be the event to put his 2012 campaign on track.
ASP Australasia caught up with Owen while he was en-route to Tahiti to find out how he’s feeling heading into this event.
What has your preparation for Tahiti been like?
My preparation for Tahiti has been pretty strong. I spent a good amount of time along the Bukit Peninsula in Bali working on my Tahiti boards with my shaper Parrish Byrne. We saw a few swells backing up and thought it was an ideal chance to iron out any chinks in the boards and get me prepared for Tahiti.
You’re currently ranked 9th, what’s it going to take to move up?
Right now on the ratings I am in a very similar position to where I was in 2011, I will look to my experiences from last year to help me move up the ratings. Tahiti is the first challenge in front of me for what should be an exciting back half of the year event wise.
You finished second last year, is there any pressure to go one better?
I don’t know if there is pressure to go one better, I would certainly like to go one better for sure, but I’m aware that it’s an event everyone covets so I’m not putting any pressure on myself to have to win it. There is a class field here in Tahiti and anyone of the top 32 could take out the event.
Tell us your favourite moment you’ve ever had at Teahupoo.
I have two pretty special moments at Teahupoo – Making the final against Kelly (Slater) last year was a special moment for me, but there is one wave in particular when I look back at, I feel a little grin on my dial. I took a pretty late drop on an 8 – 10 footer angling in from the West and then did a pump into a sizeable cavern, I stood pretty relaxed and tall in the barrel and came out. It was a special moment because within myself I kind of conquered a little something on that wave.
You don’t seem intimidated out there, why is that?
Without doubt I am intimidated by Teahupoo, I still get butterflies every time I’m contemplating taking off. It’s a crazy wave and there is always an element of risk, but I have practised my whole life surfing heavy waves down the South Coast in preparation, so I am as ready as I can be.
Who are the major threats out there and why?
All of the top 32, the wildcards, trial winners and pretty much anyone that puts on a rashie will be threatening. Kelly has set the benchmark over the years, he will be hard to get past. John John (Florence) is in form, the Hobgoods take to Chopes like ducks to water, and going on last year Josh (Kerr), Julian (Wilson) and Matt (Wilkinson) will all be menacing.
Thanks for your time, good luck in the comp.