Tyler Wright took another step closer to the 2016 Women's World Title with a strong showing in the early afternoon sunshine in SW France.
Already with a sizable, if not mathematically insurmountable advantage over Courtney Conlogue coming into the Roxy Pro, the Australian kept up the relentless pressure with an impressive Round 1 win. If the weight of expectation is heaping pressure on her shoulders, Tyler's surfing showed little sign.
Opening with an audacious layback hack for a big lead over Bianca Buitendag and Chelsea Tuach, it was a display of the invaluable self-confidence the former two-time event winner is oozing in her quest for a maiden world title.
At this point, the worst Tyler can place is 9th. Conlogue has to do it all and at least make the quarters.
"When conditions are like this it gives you a lot of freedom," said Wright. "Although we had a game plan as well, when it's like this you can just go out there and surf as you see it." Not appearing to bear any undue mental strain at such a vital stage of the season, Wright also admitted her body is back to full strength after a recent injury niggle. "My ankle feels really good right now, the docs here are amazing, I'm loving it."
Courtney Conlogue did little wrong in her quest to join Tyler in Round 3, but came up against an on-fire Nikki Van Dijk. Tyler's compatriot and teammate controlled the encounter from the start, sending the Californian unceremoniously into Round 2, where she'll be surfing for her life. With Luke Egan in Conlogue's corner coaching, she'll need all the consell the former World Tour powerhouse can offer if she's to send the world title race to Maui.
With a light seabreeze becoming ever keener and tides offering diminishing returns in terms of scoring opportunities, the decision was made to come back tomorrow morning for a call on the most crucial Round 2 of 2016 so far.
A women's world champion could potentially be crowned in Hossegor tomorrow morning, although one fired up, supremely fit Californian will certainly be having something to say about that first.