Top Pro Surfer, Owen Wright, Returns To Water After Brain Injury At Pipeline [Gallery]

Australian Owen Wright, who, going into Hawaii’s December 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters in Memory of Andy Irons was rated No. 5 in the world, suffered a serious head injury that resulted in him pulling out of the event, as well as the first half of the 2016 season, as reported by Surfing Life, is said to be back in the water and surfing again, as reported by Stab.

“I went for my first surf a couple days ago,” the well-liked Wright was quoted. “It was the funnest thing in the world. Funny thing is… I couldn’t get to my feet. So I just laid there.”

Speaking to Wright’s likeability, and downright popularity, in a poll conducted during the 2015 Fiji Poll, which asked viewers to pick who would win the final that included Owen Wright and Julian Wilson, Wright came out on top and went on to win the event, as reported by the World Surf League.

Owen Wright also has a younger sister, Tyler, who competes on the World Surf League tour, and several other surfing siblings, as reported by The Australian. Owen has the distinction of being the only surfer to have ever received two perfect scores in one event: the 2015 Fiji Pro, which he also won.

After maintaining solid rankings through 2015, Wright’s No. 5 position dwindled to No. 25, as reported by the World Surf League, with his loss of points at Pipeline. Missing the first half of the 2016 season, one might conclude, puts Wright firmly out of title contention — stranger things have happened in professional surfing.

Wright was said to have been “mowed down” by a “sizeable” Pipeline wave on the morning of December 10, 2015. The Australian was reported to have been a “standout” in warmup sessions held prior to the event.

Though it is thought that Wright is aware of when he sustained the head trauma, which was said to have included bleeding on the brain, he was reported to have not realized the severity of his injuries until he had awakened from napping in the hours following his Pipeline “flogging.”

Owen Wright was so disoriented when he awoke from his nap that he couldn’t walk or see clearly; an ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital. The diagnosis, a “severe concussion and minor bleeding in the brain,” put Wright on the sidelines for the Pipeline event and for first half of the 2016 season.

“It felt like I was dropping into 10-foot Teahupo’o,” Owen Wright remembered his first surf session while recovering from his injuries, comparing the surf to the giant waves at a fabled Tahitian surf spot. “Five mins later I was on the beach, and started to think about what I actually did and started comparing it to what I used to be like or what everybody else was doing out there… and started to question why can’t I. This started to ruin my experience and change how I really felt.”


The world-class surfer, who has dedicated his life to the cut-throat field of professional surfing, described experiencing an epiphany upon entering the ocean and not being able to surf at the level he was accustomed to. Wright explained a belief that while “self improvement” is necessary, comparisons with others, and with past achievements are “detrimental.” Any type of focus on why one is “not good enough” is a negative emotion that will “hinder” performance, and ultimately one’s personal happiness.

Owen Wright is 26-years-old. Besides his win at the 2015 Fiji Pro he has one other professional victory: the 2011 Quicksilver Pro New York. He has been competing in the World Surf League since 2010 and has career earnings of $1.13 million. His top ranking was in 2011, when he finished the year rated No. 3 in the world.

Pro surfer Owen Wright is reported to be surfing again after a December 2015 head injury received at Pipeline.

[Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images]