Wright cops earful

A BURST eardrum has ended Lennox Head surfer Owen Wright’s giant-killing run inthe Rip Curl Pro Search in Portugal.

Wright suffered the injury in his quarter-final against American Damien Hobgood and it has ruled him out of a semi-final showdown against fellow Australian Mick Fanning.

In near-perfect autumn weather, on the second-last event of the tour, Supertubes produced two-metre surf that was as dangerous as it was spectacular.

Wright suffered the injury when his right ear slapped hard against the water.

While Wright’s father Rob is in Portugal, his mother, Fiona, was thankful she hadn’t watched live footage of the incident in which the teenage surfer left the water in a groggy condition.

“I felt sick when I actually watched it,” she said.

“I’d watched all his heats and I went to bed when my husband told me that it had been called off for the day.

“My phone pipped at 5am with a text message that it was back on but I was pleased that I didn’t see him coming out of the water like that.”

Wright was taken to hospital in Lisbon, an hour from Peniche, and could be out of the water for six weeks.

“I spoke to them on the way back from hospital and he’s supposed to stay out of water for a couple of weeks and play it by ear,” Fiona said.

“The eardrum grows back quite quickly but he has to keep away from the water and guard against infection.”

The 19-year-old was enjoying a dream run as a wildcard entrant in the event and was one of three Aussies to score perfect 10s in their quarter-finals.

Remarkably, Wright’s 10 ride meant he still had enough of a lead over Hobgood to win the quarter-final, 12.83 to 12.5, even though he had to leave the water with 13 minutes remaining on the clock.

The semi-finals were to be all-Australian, but Wright’s ear injury means Fanning, the tour leader, will probably have a walk-through to the final.

Joel Parkinson, who trails Fanning by only 44 points in the title race, continues to regain form after his late-season slump and he is in the other semi against compatriot Bede Durbridge.
Parkinson and Durbridge, like Wright, scored 10s in their quarter-final wins.

While Fanning and Parkinson could meet in the final – the best-possible result for the event organisers – other world title contenders suffered disastrous losses on Tuesday.

Before the Pro Search, the top 10 in the standings were world title contenders.

But third-placed Adriano de Souza of Brazil, American BJ Hobgood (fourth) and Australian Taj Burrow (seventh) went out in the third round, effectively leaving Durbridge (fifth) as the only man who could still challenge Fanning and Parkinson.

Nine-time world champion Kelly Slater, sixth in the rankings, bowed out in the second round last week at the hands of Wright.


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