Wednesday, October 12, 2016
In a hard-fought Semifinal duel with three-time World Champion Carissa Moore, Courtney Conlogue’s valiant campaign to send the title race to Maui came to its conclusion, when she was unable to match the powerful Hawaiian’s backhand attack in wally lefts.
As the score for Conlogue’s final wave came over the beach speakers as insufficient to send her into the Final, Wright, on the beach preparing to surf in the Final, was mobbed by a host of well-wishers and tour friends, confirming her status as the new World Champion.
“I’ve had a lot of fun, there’ve been a lot of moments…” began Wright, still trying to process the significance of her achievement. “There were a lot of reasons that I set out to win the World Title this year, a lot I didn’t mention in public. Last year was such a hectic year, even this year started really hectic for me and my family, a lot has gone on with my family, with Owen. I lost an uncle… this was the last event he watched, and I promised him I’d win the Title for him, and I did.”
While Moore took out an emphatic victory in a one-sided final to win the Roxy Pro France — and her first win of the season — the loudest cheers on the chilly afternoon understandably went to Wright. In achieving the sport’s ultimate goal, Wright also broke the Gilmore/Moore duopoly, which has seen the pair win every World Title since 2007.
Finding herself in the unfamiliar position of not contesting the World Title coming into the European leg, Moore was delighted to nail her first win of the year on the famous sands of Hossegor. She looked every bit back to the form that’s seen her win three World Titles previously, and will be a major threat in the season’s finale at Honolua Bay, Maui.
“I’m really stoked to finally get a win here in France, it feels awesome,” she said. “It’s my first win this year, so it feels like it’s been a long time coming. I’m really happy for Tyler of course, but it’s nice to get a win in myself as a reward for the work I’ve been putting in.”
For her final battle against Moore, Wright wore her brother Owen’s jersey number as a tribute to the sibling who has helped her immeasurably on her road to the title. Taking off switch, Tyler imitated her older brother’s stance on her first wave as a dedication to the goofy-foot, who suffered a serious head injury last winter in Hawaii. It was a poignant public tribute after what has been a trying personal time for the family. Tyler’s gesture was a small reminder that, even in throes of title races and career-defining moments, certain things in life transcend sporting encounters.
Among the crowd on the beach taking in the Final was a gracious Courtney Conlogue, who gave a typically honest assessment of her own predicament. “Obviously, you gotta keep moving forward,” she said. “You pick yourself up and move on. I’m really looking forward to Honolua…and then Snapper next year. The next step, from No. 2, is the World Title. A lot needs to be done in terms of figuring out what I have to do to win, but I’m improving as an athlete and a competitor and I’ll be back, ready to go.”