Tyler Wright made history today as the first woman to win a Championship Tour event at Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu.
Wright defeated Carissa Moore in the finals of the Maui Pro presented by ROXY, which moved locations from Maui’s famed Honolua Bay after a surfer died after a shark attack during the contest window. Wright was understandably excited about the victory, her first of the 2020/2021 season, and its significance.
“I definitely don’t take this for granted, to have this opportunity today is truly special,” said Wright.
While today’s event is the first official women’s world tour event to transpire at Pipeline, it’s not the first competition. The WSL has held Women’s Invitational events four times in the past six years at Pipeline that have included strong performances from the likes of Carissa Moore, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Keala Kennelly, Courtney Conlogue, and Stephanie Gilmore.
Last year, The Inertia spoke to several WSL competitors and female surfers about the prospect of a women’s event at Pipeline. The reception was resoundingly receptive.
Generations of talented, driven women have helped trailblaze a path to today’s event (“Banzai” Betty Depolito, the alleged first woman to surf Pipeline, Joyce Hoffman, recognized as the first woman to surf Pipeline regularly, Keala Kennelly, and Rochelle Ballard, to name a few).
“It takes a lot of practice time at Pipe and Backdoor to learn how to surf it,” Ballard told The Inertia in 2019. “It’s a very powerful and dangerous wave, with great consequences, whether it’s small or big…There’s a strong pool of talent on the tour now and the majority of the women have the ability to drop in and ride the barrel. Really, they need to put their time in, like every Pipe surfer that has ever (gotten good at that) wave. There’s a great deal of support for the women today and I feel like it will take some good strong coaching on approach and technique to perform physically and mentally there.”
Pipeline has long been one of the most competitive, dangerous, and territorial waves on the planet, and today marks an important step in securing women’s rightful place in the lineup.
Finalist Carissa Moore also registered a memorable 9-point Backdoor barrel in the semi-final against Tatiana Weston-Webb to claim the highest score for the women at Pipeline.
“I think this day is a long time coming,” big-wave world champion Keala Kennelly told the WSL webcast. “I think that every one of these women, if I can find the word, is capable. They’re all capable if they have the opportunities.”
Tyler Wright made noise when she returned to competition voicing support for Black Lives Matter. Wright had a challenging road to recovery that she addressed candidly in an interview with The Inertia this summer. Her mantra to her upcoming season: “Surfing is for everyone.” She certainly continues to show that’s the case.
Check out worldsurfleague.com for more information.