Owen Wright has just become the Champion of the 2019 Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o, taking the win in perfect six-to-eight-foot Teahupo’o barrels in a Finals heat against 2x and reigning World Champion Gabriel Medina.
This win has been a year in the making, as the duo also battled it out in the Final heat at the Tahiti Pro just last year. In 2018, Gabriel took the win; this year, Owen put on a performance that couldn’t be beat.
“I couldn’t be happier right now,” Owen said in an emotional moment following his win. “This has been an incredible event. Earlier today I said that I really wanted to surf against Gabriel in the Final, and we both said it to each other last year as well. I just had this weird feeling that it would happen again. The waves were so perfect today, and to share that with a great mate was so special.”
Throughout the event both Owen and Gabriel were the standouts, the only two surfers to score perfect 10s in 2019 at Teahupo’o. Owen’s 10, which came in his quarterfinal heat, gave him the momentum that propelled him to his win.
“When you come out here and get a 10 in your first heat of the day, it really sets things in motion,” Owen said. “I felt like it was my day. It made it feel like things were coming my way, and what I needed to do was put my head down and keep going. I am so stoked to take the win.” - Owen Wright
This win marks Owen’s fourth career CT event win, and another remarkable step in his comeback from a brain injury he suffered at Pipeline in 2015. After a year-long hiatus following the injury, Owen returned to competition and won his first event back. Now, one-and-a-half years later, he’s taken on one of the heaviest reef breaks in the world and overcome World Champions to get to his second CT win post-injury.
“I haven’t won an event since Snapper,” Owen said. “And it was so early in my recovery process. Since then it’s been up and down and up and down, and now in the last few months it’s finally just felt up and up and up. It’s the momentum I’ve needed. I’ve wanted to win this event for such a long time, my family is here with me, and it all feels right. I am so stoked to get the win.”
Owen’s win today has propelled him up the WSL Jeep Leaderboard rankings to 8th in the world, which also makes him the highest ranked Australian surfer in the world. Looking towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, this puts Owen is a comfortable position to vie for a coveted spot on the Australian Olympic Surf Team.
Runner-up Gabriel Medina has also risen in the rankings with his second-place finish in the Tahiti Pro. Now sitting 4th on the WSL Jeep Leaderboard, Gabriel is looking towards the final events of the year as a strong opportunity to fight for his third World Title.
“The Final today was amazing,” Gabriel said. “We got nice waves the whole contest, and Owen really deserved that one. I’m happy for him and I was stoked to be in the Final with him again. Last year I won, and today he got me. That’s amazing, and I love to compete against him. I am happy to get second.
“From here I am thinking about the World Title. I have to enjoy this momentum and use it. It’s been hard to find the rhythm this year but now I feel like I’m there.”
Just minutes after the Final heat finished, Gabriel was already looking towards the next event – his next opportunity to solidify himself in the World Title race.
“Now,” he said. “I’m just thinking about the wave pool.”
The 2019 Tahiti Pro was an event to remember, and both Owen Wright and Gabriel Medina put on a show.
Congratulations to our 2019 Tahiti Pro Champion Owen Wright, and runner-up Gabriel Medina.