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With 5 world tours under her belt and 5 event wins this year, Tyler Wright finally has the title as 2016 World Champion.

Whilst she calmly prepared to surf the final of the Roxy Pro, Tyler’s title competitor Courtney Conlogue battled to make a combo-comeback against 3x world champion Carissa Moore in the second of the semi-finals. If she fell behind Carissa, Tyler would take the Championship title one event early.

Her final wave score was announced as insufficient to match Moore’s and Tyler was surrounded. Friends, family and supporters relayed the news of her victory in smiles and hugs before she’d even taken her headphones out. She was World Champion and the gravity of her achievement was sinking in.

2016 has been a defining year for Wright, whose loss to Carissa Moore in 2015 catalysed a change of perspective and new steely approach to her competitive surfing.

“I’ve finally realised the difference between someone who doesn’t care and someone who cares.” Said Tyler last year, “And I care.”

When older brother Owen was injured at Pipeline last December, her motivations changed.

“If I ever wanted to win a world title I had to have a reason. The end of last year I had one.”

Her coach’s approach to drawing out her focus during that difficult time was support just when she needed it. “The way he works is really in line with who I am as a person.”

Whilst surrounded by the celebrations yesterday Tyler gave us an incite into her headspace throughout this tour.

“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.”

Wright made it look relatively easy breaking the rhythm of the Moore vs. Gilmore 8 year winning streak, instead having the ferocity of Courtney Conlogue to contend with. We were left in no doubt of Conlogue’s intentions when she said, “I just want to smash my competitor really.” From then on it was a two-horse race to the Roxy Pro.

Wright nailed two wins in the Australian leg of the tour and then it was all about power and consistency in the water. With a win at the Oi Rio Pro, Tyler had taken three out of four events and despite a disappointing 2nd round exit to Bethany Hamilton in Fiji, which had her handing the yellow jersey back to Conlogue, Trestles was a turning point. The victory against 6x World Champion, Stephanie Gilmore cemented a lead that buffered Courtney’s win in Cascais, Portugal.

Then it all came down to the Moore / Conlogue semi-final. With enough points to take the title one event early if Conlogue didn’t make the final, Tyler watched on as Carissa threw her backhand at the French lefts in a way Courtney wasn’t able to match.

Tyler rode her first wave of the final goofy foot like Owen whilst wearing his number 3 jersey, and celebrated onstage with Carissa who took the Roxy Pro win. The World Surf League was always a family affair for Tyler but perhaps never more so than now.

Congratulations Tyler Wright, 2016 World champion!

Featured image: Tyler Wright (AUS) clinches her first World Title. Credit: World Surf League via Reuters

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