GROWING IN STATURE: Lennox Head surfer Tyler Wright will face-off against world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the Beachley Classic starting in Sydney today.
GROWING IN STATURE: Lennox Head surfer Tyler Wright will face-off against world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the Beachley Classic starting in Sydney today. Michael Tyrpenou

Wright stuff to be tested

LENNOX Head surfer Tyler Wright will have to progress through a heavyweight heat if she wants to emulate the feats of last year and win the richest event on the Women's World Tour, the $100,000 Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic, which starts today in Sydney.

Wright, who stunned the surfing world by winning the 2008 event, was the youngest ever surfer to win a women's tour event when she claimed it as a 14-year-old.

But this year she has lost her anonymity which will only add to the pressure when she takes to the water in her first heat as a wildcard against two-time defending world champion Stephanie Gilmore and former world champion Chelsea Hedges.

“I'm not really sure how to manage my nerves against someone like Steph,” Wright told the ASP website.

“I guess I just get so excited to surf against her that I forget about that stuff. The ASP Women's World Tour has five new rookies this season so the event is going to be harder than ever, but I'm looking forward to it.”

Wright, who was brought up at Culburra before moving north to Lennox with her family last Christmas, could also have an edge as the event has been moved from the beach break of Manly to the point break of Dee Why.

Lennox is rated one of the best point breaks on the East Coast and no doubt the 15-year-old has been honing her skills in the lead-up to the Beachley Classic.

“I've only just turned 15 so I still have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Wright said.

“I still have a lot to learn and having another opportunity like this is unbelievable. Since last year, I've grown at least a centimetre so hopefully I have a bit more power behind my turns.”

The Beachley Classic will be only the second World Tour event Wright has contested after she failed to progress through the trials at the Roxy Pro at the Gold Coast earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Byron Bay World Tour competitor Kieren Perrow has moved to within a whisker of the world top 10 after consecutive ninths in the past two events.

Perrow finished ninth in the Hurley Pro Trestles and the Quiksilver Pro France which were both won by Gold Coast surfer Mick Fanning.

Last year the 32-year-old finished 17th but he has broken into the top 10 previously finishing seventh in 2002 and sixth in 2003.

Three events remain on the World Tour, including next week's Billabong Pro Mundaka, Spain, and then the Rip Curl Search in Portugal which runs from October 19.



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