Australian wunderkind Mikey Wright has steadily been gaining star-power on home turf for years, thanks to eye-popping video parts, a staunchly edgy style and refusal to hew to establishment rules.
But this week on the Goldy, the 21-year-old's outsized talent went global when he took down two WSL World Champions at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in successive blows to surf royalty. First, on Tuesday, he defeated John John Florence, dealing the 2x, reigning World Champ his first Round 2 loss since 2015. But Wednesday, he doubled down and defeated 2014 World Champ Gabriel Medina, to the dismay of well, all of Brazil.
"It was pretty tense at the start, I wasn't letting him have that inside," Wright said afterward to a scrum of Australian press. "He was doing everything he could to get me off of him, but I stayed strong and stuck to where I wanted to be.
"But I've changed a few things up, working with Troy Brooks a lot, it's been working for us. It's been good to have him down here, my best mate, my dog, my family."
That work has paid off, starting with the WSL Qualifying Series (QS), where Wright is currently No. 1, as well here on the Championship Tour (CT) at Snapper. In his heat against Medina, Wright scored a 7.67 at the start, putting him in a solid position. But it was later in the matchup, when he held on to a huge floater, that he clinched the win. As the pressure went up, Medina -- who's steely approach to competition is practically axiomatic -- made some uncharacteristic mistakes, including falling on a floater and bailing on a Hail-Mary air at the end.
By that point, Wright had all but wrapped things up, owing to an apparent but top-secret training regime with Quiksilver's Brooks. When asked how he's achieved his remarkable new game face, he said, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."
Brooks was (slightly) more granular about their approach. "Mikey's been...trying to change his mindset from making one big turn on a wave to linking it together in a competition format," he said. "Surfing lots of small waves, getting ready for the QS, linking lots of maneuvers together, that's pretty much been his major focus. He's got really good people around him. He really wants to the be on world Tour now, and is doing everything he can."
Despite Wright's embrace of the competition jersey, however, Brooks was quick to point out that he won't be losing his edge anytime soon. (Read: the mull-hawk stays.) "He's still doing video parts, he still goes out and goes pretty ham for a competition surfer in big, crazy-shallow waves and all that sort of stuff. It's more, when he has his competition head on, he knows what to do."
Plus, while Mikey has defined his own badass path through the surf biz, he's still a Wright, through and through. That means that the kind of profound competitive drive that earned his older sister, Tyler, two back-to-back World Titles -- including one through an acute knee injury -- and that led his older brother, Owen, from a life-altering head injury to a win at his first event back, runs through his veins, too.
"[Mikey's] pretty competitive," Brooks said. "If you ever play a game of cards with him, if anyone gets close to cheating, or rule-breakers, there are some fine words that come across the table."