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Owen Wright Announces That He Will Retire from Competition After Surfing as Wild Card at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

The WSL announced this week that one of the tour’s most legendary competitors will be retiring after the Bells Beach event.

No, it’s not Kelly Slater—despite being over 50, he is still going strong. Instead, it is Australian Owen Wright, who has spent the past 10 years dominating the heavy-water stops on tour, and who orchestrated one of the most incredible comebacks in the sport when he won his first event back after suffering a traumatic brain injury that nearly ended his career (not to mention his life).

 

Part of a three-sibling surfing dynasty that includes Mikey “Mongrel” Wright and two-time world champion Tyler Wright, Owen is the oldest of the three siblings and was the first to make the tour. He was a world tour competitor for over a decade, winning four events throughout his career, starting with a win at the 2011 Quiksilver Pro New York, which at the time had the highest prize money in surfing history. He placed in the top 10 on the WSL rankings multiple times and also won a bronze medal at the first Olympic surfing event in 2021. He was also the first surfer to score two perfect heats in one event (at the 2015 Fiji Pro Cloudbreak), and is one of only five surfers to ever score a perfect heat on tour.

Wright’s career was nearly ended by a tragic accident in the 2015 Pipeline Masters, when he was driven head-first into the reef and suffered a traumatic brain injury. After a year of recuperation and fearing that he might never surf again, he notched one of the greatest comebacks in world tour history, winning his first event back on tour at the 2017 season opener at Snapper Rocks. Since then, he has gone on to win the Outerknown Teahupoo Pro in 2019 and continue to prove himself as one of the best and most consistent competitors in the world.

After failing to requalify by one spot in 2022, Owen Wright has been awarded a wild card for the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. This is a fitting platform for Wright to celebrate his retirement from competitive surfing, a decision that is largely motivated for his need to step away from surfing heavy waves due to the ongoing risks associated with his previous head injury and the fact that he now has a family to think about.

We will all be celebrating Owen Wright’s career as he goes out in a blaze of glory at Bells beach early next month. Here’s hoping he can squeeze out one more win before he hangs up his jersey for good!