COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Tuesday, March 7, 2017) - Owen Wright (AUS) has confirmed that he will accept the wildcard for the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), following a year-long absence from competition after suffering a serious head injury whilst surfing Pipeline, on Oahu's North Shore, in December 2015.
"I'm so thankful for the support of my friends and family, my sponsors, the WSL and all the people in the community who sent positive thoughts to me throughout my recovery," Wright said. "I'm feeling stronger every day and I'm very much looking forward to returning to the Tour and further honing my fitness and surfing throughout the 2017 season."
Wright, who finished the 2015 CT season at No. 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard, made his return to competitive surfing last month at the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro QS 6,000 and will rejoin the world's best at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast, which gets underway on March 14th, 2017. Wright will face Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) in Round 1 of competition.
"Owen Wright is one of the most electric and powerful surfers to ever grace the tour," Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. "Following his injury in December of 2015, the WSL's priority was Owen's well-being and, if he were to return to competition, a healthy return to the sport. After assessing his performance and health after a QS event earlier in the season, Owen has accepted the WSL Wildcard for the 2017 season. We're happy to have him back."
Wright's younger sister, Tyler Wright (AUS), enters the 2017 season as the reigning WSL Women's Champion and Wright's younger brother Mikey Wright (AUS) has been awarded a wildcard into the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast for the second year running.
The remaining men's wildcard and the women's wildcard will be decided by a trials event on Monday, March 13th.
This season's Championship Tour lineup sees an unprecedented number of men's and women's WSL Champions in the competitive field: Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Fanning (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and John John Florence (HAW) on the men's side and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Carissa Moore (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS) on the women's side.
The world's best surfers will kick off the 2017 WSL Championship Tour season in Australia for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast from March 14 - 25, 2017.
The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com and the WSL app as well as Fox Sports in Australia, Sky NZ, SFR Sports in France, Sport TV in Portugal, EDGE Sports in China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com
Members of the press can apply for a media credential for the event by completing the online credential form via the WSL Press Room.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF), Conner Coffin (USA), Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Miguel Pupo (BRA), TBD
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Connor O'Leary (AUS), TBD
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Fanning (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Joan Duru (FRA)
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Frederico Morais (PRT)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Owen Wright (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), TBD
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Silvana Lima (BRA), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA)