Owen Wright is one of Australia’s biggest sporting talents. At just 21-years-old he is ranked number three on the ASP World Championship ladder. Fresh off beating surfing legend Kelly Slater in New York, Wright caught up with EFTM to discuss surfing in Australia, the world tour, his fitness regime and heaps more.
What’s your favourite country to compete in?
I really enjoy every country that I compete in. Australia of course is top of my list as my family are close, we have great waves, beautiful landscapes and I love being close to my own bed. Hawaii is amazing, the place has the perfect mix of every sort of wave you can imagine. Tahiti is majestic, the food is incredible, the waves are what dreams are made of and the locals are incredibly sharing. France is all of the above, fun waves, great food, amazing history. Portugal is like my second home, especially the fishing village of Peniche, the locals are so warming and supportive, they have an incredible variety of waves and good food. I can’t forget the States, NYC was incredible – the culture of the urban jungle and the locals at Long Beach made it an unforgettable destination. Then across on the West Coast you have Trestles, which is probably the most high performance wave on earth.
You’re currently ranked three and just 21. What’s the end game? Do you want to make number one as soon as possible or are you just in it for wins and championships, screw the rankings?
Yes I have had an incredible year, to be third with one event to go is a dream come true. I love competing and to be the ASP World Champion is my goal. This is my second year on tour and I’m really enjoying the challenges put in front of me. I’m learning valuable lessons every event which I think help me prepare for the next event and to my goal of a World Title.
You recently knocked off Kelly Slater in the Quiksilver Pro, New York – what was that like?
The previous week Kelly beat me in the final at Tahiti. In NYC I was extremely determined not to let that happen again. To have a final against Kelly is a dream. He is the best surfer ever. Beating Kelly wasn’t my outright goal, I was there in that final to challenge myself and lift my surfing. I got some good waves early and put pressure on Kelly and in the end, I was fortunate to win.
You’re from the South Coast of Australia which you say has the slickest waves. What are the best beaches in Australia to surf?
There are a lot of gems around Australia, but I reckon the South Coast has the best waves going. I’ll probably be best to keep those gems to myself – I still enjoy surfing them and don’t want to put the locals out.
Surfers live what seems like a rather laidback but crazy lifestyle at the same time. What’s the reality of being on the tour? Is it cruisy or crazy?
Being on tour is like a juggling act, you need to balance the crazy with the cruisy. It’s incredibly important to me to be well prepared for each event. Each new event has a new set of situations that present challenges for you to overcome. New boards, new beds, new heats are all things that I take into consideration.
What sort of fitness regime do you have to compete? Most surfers are pretty ripped – that must take a lot of gym work?
I have a program that I work through with my trainer Dean Davis. We train to improve paddling, doing interval work, we make sure my basic strength is where it needs to be and also to maintain a healthy diet. You need to eat the right food to make sure the energy outputs are maximised when needed. It’s hard when you are on the road to be 100 per cent diet conscious. When I am at home on a long break I train religiously, the more I train the stronger I feel which helps my mental preparation. Everything goes hand in hand.
What do you like to do when you get some time off?
I really like to surf in my off time. Surfing has always been a fun thing for me to do, there’s nothing better than loading up my Ford Ranger and taking to the open road.
What are your favourite surfing spots to check out?
Having a Ford Ranger means I can access some of Australia’s most remote surfing spots to get to those really out of the way hard to find places. That being said, my favourite surfing spots are closely guarded secret and I won’t be giving too much away.
Aussies still make up stacks of the top 50 surfers in the world. Why do we dominate when other countries like the US and Brazil have great waves as well?
I think we’re lucky to be surrounded 100 per cent by coastline. That fact alone might suggest why we have such a good bunch of surfers in the top 50. Also I think credit should go to Surfing Australia who have set up the Australasian Pro Junior series which has been an amazing stepping stone for Australian surfers. The nursery has been set up to foster the talent. I reckon both these factors might be an indicator as to why we have been successful.
What’s the scariest situation you’ve gotten yourself into while surfing?
During the Rip Curl Search Peniche, Portugal a couple of years back, I took a serious wipeout on a solid beachbreak. When I surfaced I had a perforated ear, as well as a blown knee and shoulder. It was the most horrifying experience, I was completely disorientated and crippled at the same time. Fortunately for me, I washed up on the beach where all the best medical attention was available.
Do you think Aussie surfers get enough publicity in Australia?
Surfing’s image in Australia is going through a change at the moment, people’s mindsets are changing and there is a lot new blood who are genuinely interested in surfing, the tour and the people on it. The whole attitude is a lot more professional also, which edges surfing towards being more marketable and appealing to the mainstream audience.
This interview was made possible by Ford. Owen Wright is an ambassador for the new Ford Ranger.
Top image: ASP World Tour