Showing the Wright stuff in Portugal

OWEN WRIGHT has nothing to lose against surfers who have everything at stake.

The 19-year-old Australian phenomenon breezed through his opening heat of the World
Championship Tour event in Peniche, Portugal, on Thursday.

Wright, of Lennox Head, is a sponsor’s wildcard entry at the Rip Curl Pro Search event before joining the tour full-time next year as one of the youngest rookies in its history.

Under the new optional format being used in Portugal, surfers are re-seeded after the first round and Wright goes up against one of the top 16 in the second round.

Wright is relishing the prospect of causing some damage among the top seeds as they try to consolidate their overall standings in the second-last event of the year.

“I’m stoked just to get through that first round as a wildcard, it’s a bit of a confidence boost,” he said.

“Knowing you’re going to surf against one of the world’s best in the next round, it’s going to be pretty interesting and pretty exciting.

“These guys know what they’re doing and it’s coming down to crunch time for them.
“It’s not so much for me, they want it a lot, but so do I – I’m going to try my best and put them to the test.”

Earlier this year, Wright was a wildcard entry at Bells Beach and pulled off upset wins over nine-time world champion Kelly Slater and fellow American Dane Reynolds.

On Thursday, half the 16 first-round heats were run as the Pro Search finally started after three lay days.

Wright beat in-form Hawaiian Kekoa Bacalso by 12.03 to 8.76 in the one-metre swell.

Seeing that the tide was coming in, Wright took full advantage of some good waves early in the heat and Bacalso could not catch him.

One heat later, the competition was called off for the day.

“I knew the tide was going to come in and didn’t really know what it was going to change to, I got a couple of little ‘wedges’ early,” he said.

“I was right, there wasn’t much for the rest of the heat and it was pretty hard for Kekoa to answer back when there weren’t many waves.”

Wright was among three Australians to win on the first day, along with Ben Dunn and Kai Otton. – AAP


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