How nice is it to see Owen Wright surfing well again? Wearing a bright white helmet, the lanky, goofy-foot got a rematch from last year with Gabriel Medina in the final of the 2019 Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o and took full advantage, reminding the world what a fantastic frontside tube rider he is.
Medina opened up a sizeable lead to begin the heat, playing that decisive game of his that saw him look completely in-form throughout the event and snag the only 10-point ride of the 2019 season yesterday. But Wright bagged the second one today, finals day, and rode that momentum to become champion of one of the most memorable Teahupo’o events in years.
The Australian used a two-minute sequence to take out the final where he caught back-to-back, deep blue pits, scoring a 9.17 with a perfect double-up line under priority, leaving everyone in disbelief that Medina let it go. Then, 120 seconds later, he improved his backup score with a 7.9, throwing his off-angle fist pump again as he exited Teahupo’o’s heaving barrel for a second time in as many minutes.
It was a complete return to form for Wright, who spent all of 2016 watching event webcasts after suffering a head injury at Pipeline at the end of 2015 – a year in which he was certainly enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, having scored a pair of perfect heats in Fiji during his win there that year. This was Owen’s first victory since taking out the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in March of 2017.
Gabriel Medina, for his part, looked stoked just to end up in the final, in nearly perfect Teahupo’o. His appearance in the last heat puts him squarely in a place he’s so used to being this time of year: in the title hunt.
“Owen really deserved that one,” Medina said after. “He started off the day with a 10. When someone does that you think it might go their way. I was just stoked to be in the final again. Last year it was me but today he got me. He’s one of the best and I love to compete against him.”
Wright seemed completely elated to get the monkey off his back. “I really wanted Gabby in the final, to have that rematch,” he said. “It was such a special final, I had a weird feeling it was gonna happen again. The waves were pumping and to share that with a great mate was really special. I haven’t won since Snapper. It’s been so long. My recovery (from the head injury) has been up and down and I’m finally feeling up these last few months. It was really special for me.”