Swatch Women's Pro

The Wright Track: This Time, Tyler's Title Pursuit Is Serious

Anna Dimond

Tyler Wright exploded onto the Championship Tour scene at the age of 14, becoming the youngest person ever to win a CT event. After becoming a full-fledged tour surfer, she proceeded to smoke the competition, finishing World No. 4 during her first year on Tour, which netted her the Rookie of the Year honor. Amid the fanfare, it was only natural that there were high hopes for her future as a World Champion.

Tyler Wright during the Quarterfinals Tyler Wright's aggressive approach has taken her to the top this year. She's hoping a sharper focus will keep her there. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

And this year, she might actually do it.

Season after season, Tyler has been surfing phenomenally well, finishing in the Top 5 or better without breaking a sweat. Yet despite two runner-up finishes, until this year, Tyler has been considered more of an outsider when it came to title contention. Yes, she was mathematically within striking distance, and her raw talent was unquestionably there, but she was fiery ball of uncontainable energy.

Enter her new coach, Glenn "Micro" Hall.

Tyler Wright Wright with Coach Hall in Rio, where she won even while struggling with rain, a tricky lineup and compromised health. Hall said afterward that part of the trick was hard work wrapped in fun. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

Suddenly, Wright is winning, and winning consistently. She has won three of six events so far this season, putting her at the front of the pack.

She's the bonafide front-runner now, and the World Title is well within her grasp if she can maintain the focus she's demonstrated this season. Sure, that sounds easy, but it's far from it. Behind the scenes, Wright has been navigating an emotional minefield. On the home front her older brother, Owen, is still enduring a long recovery after suffering a severe brain injury at Pipe last December. Tyler's been dealing with many of the questions because she's the one in the public eye.

Tyler Wright Tyler's been one of the most progressive surfers on the women's side since she burst onto the scene. Her performances have helped raise the level across the board. - WSL / Rowland

Then there's her life out on the road. And on tour, she's not the only one with her eyes on the prize. In fact, as No. 1, she's the one with the target on her back.

Californian Courtney Conlogue is still in hot pursuit. Focus has never been an issue for Conlogue. She's arguably the most driven woman in surfing. But after last year's emotional roller coaster race, she's gained some perspective on the journey, and that's helping her enjoy this year's ups and downs.

Tyler Wright looking powerful in her first heat of 2016. Wright's 2016 campaign started strong with her emotional win on the Gold Coast. - WSL / Kirstin Scholtz

Along with Conlogue, there's reigning world champion Carissa Moore, who arrives at Lower Trestles lurking dangerously in the No. 3 spot. She trails Wright by more than 6,000 points, but has the strongest track record of any other woman at Lowers.

Tyler Wright after winning the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Wright's second CT win in West Oz served as a warning shot, and underscored just how serious of a threat she is this year. - WSL / Ed Sloane

Finally, Kauai's Tatiana Weston-Webb will arrive at Trestles with a little more than 35,000 points -- less than an event win away from overtaking Wright. Not only is Weston-Webb confident, tactical and tenacious, she's also fresh off of her her first win on CT, at the US Open of Surfing.

As for spoilers, they're everywhere, including Johanne Defay, Bianca Buitendag, and Lakey Peterson, who's been looking sharp since coming back from her ankle injury. But none are as dangerous as 6x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore.

See how the race continues to unfold at the Swatch Women's Pro live daily on the WSL website and app, from Sept. 7 - 20.