Owen Wright To Retire After Bells Send Off
Taking to social media this morning, Owen Wright announced his impending retirement from competitive surfing. Though he missed requalifying for this year's Championship Tour, Wright, 33, will have his send off at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach after accepting a wildcard entry into the event.
After a stellar junior career, Wright first qualified for the Championship Tour in 2010, where he claimed four event wins over his twelve years on tour: the 2011 Quiksilver Pro New York, the 2015 Fiji Pro Cloudbreak, the 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, and the 2019 Outerknown Tahiti Pro.
Wright is one of only five surfers to score a perfect heat in competition, a feat earned just eight times in CT history. Wright did it twice, posting both of his perfect heat totals at the 2015 Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak.
He also won the largest single purse in pro surfing when he beat Kelly Slater at the 2011 Quiksilver Pro New York. That win was one of three consecutive finals fought between Wright and Slater, which led to his highest place finish of third.
In addition to his numerous accomplishments on the CT, Wright won the Bronze Medal for Australia at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
In 2015, Wright suffered a brain injury at Pipeline. His recovery warranted time out from surfing and a reassessment of his approach to big, heavy waves. The same injury will guide his post-competitive career choices.
Wright's social media post shed more light on the decision:
"After my traumatic brain injury in 2015, my desire to prove to myself and the world that I could still be great and overcome this life-threatening incident inspired my recovery. Now eight years later, after challenges and accomplishments, I can look back happily, knowing I achieved that goal. Today, I am sharing the news that I will retire from competing at the highest level of surfing. My last event will be at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, where I look forward to celebrating my career and thanking my fans, friends, and family for all their support over the years.
"Given my recent history with head injuries and concussions, competing at some of the heaviest waves on the planet is no longer in the best interest of my long-term health. I excelled in these conditions over my career, but the risks associated with this type of surfing are too significant for someone in my position, given my medical history.
"I will not retire from surfing altogether – just from surfing heavy waves. I hope to keep surfing for the rest of my life; I love surfing and thank the sport for everything I have.
"I hope that in this new chapter of my life, I can help be a voice for brain health and an advocate for athletes across all sports who have suffered TBIs and concussions throughout their careers.
"The WSL and Rip Curl have offered me the wildcard at this year’s Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. My family, medical team and I agreed that this would be the perfect location for me to compete for the last time before hanging up the rashie. Competing in front of my friends, family, and fans for the last time at Bells will be amazing."
Courageous honest decision, hope his post tour life brings him success and joy.
Amazing surfer, love watching him in big hollow lefts.
Good on him.
Another wasted wildcard.
Another wasted comment !
That's a well put together media release by Rip Curl. Do they dump him next year when the contract runs out?
Yes. he's useless to them now.
Actually think he would still be a great ambassador for RipCurl. Family man and all that, think about the actual RipCurl demographic and audience.
He could do the "Search" for the next property.
Haha .That's gold
He could team up with the areas's most charming real estate agent, Braden Walters, and do a double act on Nine's "Dream Listing Byron Bay".
The show lifts the lid on a red-hot market where Hollywood A-listers and Instagram influencers are all living the dream, and it's set against a backdrop of spectacular beaches and beautiful bodies.
Perfect for lifting the big O's profile in a market where being a "name" can add big bucks to the bottom line.
What Andy-Mac said
Love watching the lanky goofy footer's back hand attack on a right hander, and this...
That was so perfect. Wonder what it would've scored in 2023?
How's the next one though, Simpo didn't want a bar of it!
Do you think he would have made it? I don't.
Not simpo, but someone like JJ or Andy
Pottz should of called that live, Turpels monotone delivery dulled down what was an epic epic wave. God he’s painful to listen to.
Thanks for posting this vid. I remember this clearly when it happened. Best dismount ever. Hopefully his dismount at Bells is just as impressive.
And The Search continues.. for another to fill the void of Owen. Brilliant surfer and unfortunately a goofy who charges in the stuff of consequence that's had to take the foot off the pedal. Enjoy the next chapter
Back in the early 90's I met Owens father in the water at Ulus.
He took the family on their first surf trip to Bali
the kids were all over the waves running rings around everyone
Looks pretty happy pushing the kids into a few the other week .
10 + years working for the Wozzle.
Competed through the aerial years when a half arsed reverse above the lip outscored a fully committed carve.
Brain injury on the worksite
Cut by the cut
You've done more than enough for the sport and our country Owen. True blue bronzed aussie and goofy legend.
hear hear. Total legend of the sport.
Can you imagine how impressive it would've been to be out at 10 foot chopes, pipe or cloudy with him? He wouldn't have many peers.
When he was first on tour he had the elasticity of a bungee cord. How he managed to fold that lanky frame of his origami style into crazy barrels was great to watch and the backhand attack too was epic. Remember him taking on massive jbay
Couldn't agree more.
so i guess its confirmed he will be bald before he wins a wsl world title.
Wouldn't be surprised to see him jump on the Olympic job now its vacant
where'd Bede go?
High performance centre which seems to have zero profile.
One of Australias very best ever, in and out of the contest rashie.
2 visions burned into my mind is his epic Cloudbreak win and that wave at Box during the Margs comp when Medina and co didn't wanna surf it because they were scared.
3 cheers for the legend. Still surfs at a level as good as most in the top 25 in my opinion.
Seamless smooth and powerful surfing.
Owen vs Gabe Medina Tube skills at the 2019 Finals in Teahupo'o
Owen weaves through some big wobbly barrels at Cloudbreak 2015
Hope retirement at home with the family is great
Cheers B Bird.
Prior to that brain injury he was probably the world no 1 competitor in heavy lefts and a genuine world title threat.
I don’t think his surfing ever recovered back to that level.
He seems a nice bloke and has obviously cashed in with his real estate investing.
All the best to him and his family.
Thought he was destined for a world title when he hit the scene beating kelly at bells.
Should have stuck with the 6’1-6’3 poly boards he ripped on instead of trying to surf the sub 5’10 eps boards in everything although they might have worked at Kelly’s pool for him and he had fun on in mediocre surf.
still remember goosebumps when he came back and won snapper after his injury- have loved the way he’s surfed and always tried to see his heats live, cheers owen
such a great surfer and human by all accounts
Respect - enjoy retirement and family life. Well earned - incredible young aerialist, one of the best on-tour Aussie chargers ever, topped off with an insane comeback. Reckon that’d do anyone!
He’s given us some amazing moments in heavy surf and the ultimate comeback.
Good luck into the future Owen…
Legend, I was on the beach for his comeback win at Snapper, such a great moment, lots of emotion from everyone there. Never forget his perfect Fiji heats too, miss that event and will miss him. Enjoy your retirement Big O.
I think there is an autobiography in this Australian icon?
Owen you are one of my heroes, love your beautiful stylish surfing. Happy retirement.
Where’s wilko ?
He retired also. without all the look at me fuss.
Who in their sane mind would do that?
More than $1000 a day and you still have airfares and drinks to pay for , you’d be spewing if it was a flat spell . Nice way for wilko to make a living though .
The Boys doing Fine...
Well I’m glad he’s not rolling around in the gutter somewhere clutching a tall brown one in a paper bag . Seeing Joe Engel ( R.I.P. ) slide down wasn’t pretty.
I think two in a row Joe had some serious brain chemical problems was wired wrong.
- airb&b 12% commission.....
Yep, good point SF.
Congrats to Owen, huge career with insane performances around the world, especially Teahupoo and Cloudbreak.
Hard to imagine he would have ever been cut and forced to retire if Cloudbreak stayed on Tour, brain injury notwithstanding.
Completely deserves the Finale at Bells.
Pro Surfer retirements are an incredibly fickle thing.
Wilko, Bells Winner, Cloudbreak winner tour veteran slips off Tour. Rip Curl gets sold to Kathmandu and Wilko gets dropped with no notice, dropped by DHD. Immediately career is over and slips away from public sight without a word of recognition.
Ace Buchan, Tour Veteran, oldest guy after Kelly, beat Kelly in a Chopes Final etc etc.
Breaks his back on the worksite (Margaret River).
No injury wildcard, allowed to drop from sight.
Not a single word from any sponsors or WSL.
It seems very random and arbitrary who gets the gold watch send-off and who slips off into obscurity.
Yeah but it doesn't support Elo's "narrative" agenda & there's no opportunity to promote themselves as "inclusive & safe" at the WSL
Yeah ELO is a dog with fleas probably doesn't know who they are. Never was never will be someone who understands how hard it is to get to the top level just a mouth.
Disagree with you Burleigh
Best wild card ever
Now I’m frothing to watch bells
Nah best wildcard ever would be Bobby Martinez.
Actually , good come back
Back hand on the bowl
Loves a tennis match apparently
Maybe we could vote & sponsor for a repro wildcard per Oz comp
( conditional: only if the waves are 5ft+ offshore & pumping) to help WSL focus & boost ratings....?
eg. Taj, Owen, local CT battler, etc
That was classic, Bobby saying it as it is.
Also how nice were the waves. Hopefully it’s one of those Bells years in 2023
Also forgotten how good Taj was.
Prob gave him a 7 cause his first one shoulda been a 9
I really enjoyed watching him compete when it was slabbing, not just Chopes n Fiji either, the year he busted his eardrum in Portugal he was going so hard!
Can understand his reasons when we see what's happening to all the old rugby league guys & CTE.
Enjoy your retirement Owen ya Mad Dog! it ain't like you are short of a buck either you property mogul!
The are some serious law suits floating around the AFL for concussion in ex' players I wonder if there is anything equivalent in surfing?
It is snowing in Byron.
Onya Owen. Legend.
Every angle covered.
Thanks for posting that.
What a legend.
Hope Bells is 6ft.
Article on this in SMH this morning, additionally detailing his dads battle with dementia.
Launching a book. What divine timing
Here's a clip of Owen and brother Mikey at a point break in WA gero.
Mikey has a solid crack at a deeper slab(most often left unridden) at around 4 minutes but locals said he made many from there just before we turned up.
Local lad Xavier Huxtable won a spot from the trials and is the other (male) wildcard taking on Slater and Robbo in the first round.