Unbelievable! Is the word that comes to mind at the conclusion of first event of the 2017 season. Out of the Tour for the entirety of the previous season after his severe head injury at Pipeline at the end of 2015, Owen Wright accomplishes one of the most incredible returns in Surfing’s history, winning at Snapper Rocks the 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Monumental.
Below is our first event review complemented with figures!
A 100% AUSSIE DUEL
7th participation, first final and first win on the Gold Coast for Owen Wright. Before that, Snapper had never really been Owe’s cup of tea. Apart from a quarter-final in 2012, he had never gone further than round 3. Very indicative of the importance of his performance.
In final, it’s nothing less than the defending champion, Matt Wilkinson, who became the last victim of the Australian giant. It’s also worth noticing and funny that half of Owen’s opponents were Australian throughout this event.
For his part, Wilko had made an impeccable track record, avoiding the series of repechage of the round 2 and 5. If we look at the finalists heats scores, Matt has even surfed better (with higher scores) than Owen … except during the final.
It is also interesting to note that it was in round 1 that Owen Wright scored his best heat, failing to do as well or improve afterwards. Still, a sign of his commitment returning to competition on the CT.
To reach the final, Owen Wright lost only once against Connor O’Leary in round 4. He then took his revenge against his compatriot a little later in quarter-final. He also eliminated two former World Champions: Mick Fanning in round 3 and Gabriel Medina in semifinal.
Last but not least, the giant of Culburra Beach, who remained on a 4 defeats in-a-row series to Wilko (his previous win was in 2014 at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach) managed to reverse the trend and make a difference over Matt for the eighth time in their 13 matchups.
In 3rd place, we have two World Title favorites: John John Florence, reigning World Champion, and Gabriel Medina, 2014 World Champion.
It’s interesting to note that, despite their defeats in semifinal, John John and Gaby, with Julian Wilson, total the best heat averages of the event before the two finalists. John John scored his best result on the Gold Coast, while Medina failed to win a second title at Snapper (the first time in 2014, the year of his coronation).
A LEGEND NEVER DIES.
How not to mention Kelly Slater‘s run in this event. Despite a quarter-final loss against Medina in an intense and uncertain super-heat (Full story here), he gets 5,200 points with his 5th place and already exceeds his total point of last year after the whole Australian leg.
A ROOKIE ON TOP
Remember his name… Connor O’Leary! The boy from Cronulla (New South Wales) makes a shattering entry on the CT. For his first test in the elite he reaches the quarterfinals.
In line with his QS title in 2016, he proves that his accession to the CT has nothing to do with luck! He’s the only one to have defeated Owen during the course of the event in round 4 (and then eliminated by Wright in quarter-final).
With a bumpy ride throughout the event, which forced him to go through two additional rounds, Connor still proved solid to continue on his way to the quarter-finals.