Owen Wright’s Retirement from Competitive Surfing: A Look Back at his Career Highlights
After 11 seasons on the Championship Tour (CT), Australian surfer Owen Wright has announced his retirement from competitive and heavy-water surfing. Wright will make his final appearance at the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach as a wildcard entry, marking a bittersweet end to an illustrious career.
Wright’s decision to retire comes after a near-fatal head injury he sustained in 2015 while surfing at Pipeline in Hawaii. Despite his injury, Wright made a remarkable comeback in 2017, winning the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks in his first competition back. However, the win came too soon after his injury, hindering his career span overall.
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Wright expressed his joy at having a “fairytale” retirement moment at the Rip Curl Pro. He also stated that while he will continue to surf his entire life, he will cease to “push the limits.” Wright’s medical team has advised him to stay away from heavy water, and he has finally taken heed for the sake of his health and his family.
Wright’s retirement marks the end of an era in competitive surfing. Over the course of his career, he has become known for his powerful backhand surfing and impressive tube-riding skills. Wright’s success on the CT includes four victories (Chopes, Fiji, New York, Snapper) and six season top-10s. He also achieved the impressive feat of becoming the first surfer to have two perfect heats in the same event.
Wright’s Olympic Bronze Medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics also adds to his impressive career stats sheet. He competed as part of the Australian surfing team and put on a strong performance in the men’s competition, earning him a spot on the podium.
Wright’s retirement has been met with mixed reactions from the surfing community. Many fans have expressed their sadness at seeing him leave the sport, while others have praised him for prioritizing his health and family.
One thing is clear, however – Wright’s retirement leaves big shoes to fill in the world of competitive surfing. As one of the most accomplished surfers of his generation, his absence will be felt on the tour. Wright’s decision to retire also serves as a reminder of the inherent risks involved in surfing, particularly in heavy-water conditions like Pipeline.
Wright’s announcement comes at a time when the surfing world is undergoing significant changes. In 2019, the World Surf League (WSL) announced a major overhaul of the CT format, including a reduction in the number of surfers on the tour and changes to the qualification system. The changes were designed to make the tour more competitive and to attract a wider audience.
Wright’s retirement also highlights the need for increased awareness around head injuries in surfing. While surfing is often seen as a relatively safe sport, the reality is that surfers are at risk of serious injury, particularly in heavy-water conditions. Wright’s decision to retire from heavy-water surfing serves as a reminder of the importance of taking safety precautions and seeking medical attention when needed.
Despite the risks involved, surfing remains one of the most popular and exciting sports in the world. From the sunny beaches of California to the rugged coastlines of Australia, surfers of all levels can enjoy the thrill of riding the waves. And while the retirement of a surfing legend like Owen Wright marks the end of an era, it also opens the door for new stars to emerge and for the sport to continue to evolve and grow.