GONE: Byron Bay surfer Matt Wilkinson was eliminated in the second round of the Rio Pro.
GONE: Byron Bay surfer Matt Wilkinson was eliminated in the second round of the Rio Pro. Damien Poullenot

Wilkinson suffers form slump on professional tour

FAR North Coast surfers Matt Wilkinson and Owen Wright suffered early eliminations in the second round of the Rio Pro in Brazil.

Wilkinson has struggled to replicate the form which saw him rise through the ranks to be a world championship contender in 2016.

He won back-to-back events that year and was runner-up at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast last year when Wright claimed the win.

Wilkinson last tasted success at the Fiji Pro in June last year and will need to improve or risk dropping off the World Championship Tour.

Lennox Head surfers Stu Kennedy and Adam Melling have dropped off the professional ranks in recent years once they dropped outside the top 30 at seasons end.

Wilkinson is currently 24th in world rankings and will likely drop further after the Rio Pro but still has another seven events this season.

Wright is within striking distance of world title leader Julian Wilson in fourth but will need a better result at the Corona Pro in Bali later this month to stay in the top 10.

His younger brother Mikey also received a wildcard into the Rio event replacing the injured Joel Parkinson.

Mikey Wright is currently second on rankings on the World Qualifying Series and is likely to join the tour full-time next year.

He was eliminated in the second round by former world champion Gabriel Medina.

Older sister and current women's world champion Tyler Wright is still competing and set for the third round.

She is aiming to win the event for a third straight year but has also struggled to lock in big scores in the early heats.

"I thought there was actually going to be a couple more waves,” Wright said. "The plan was to try and start off really well with positioning and line-ups. That kind of played into my favour towards the end.

"The next round should be interesting depending on what the conditions do.”



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