When Mikey Wright put on an unforgettable wildcard performance at the Quiksilver Pro earlier this year, fans figured he would be a dominant player on the Qualifying Series. Unfortunately, Mikey injured his ankle a week later. It's been that kind of year for the Wright family. Owen, for example, is still recovering from the head injury he suffered at Pipe last year. But on the brighter side he's playing in the water, and just announced he's a dad-to-be. Meanwhile, Tyler Wright is in the middle of an emotional see-saw battle for the world title.
Naturally, being a sidelined spectator has been both kind and cruel for Mikey, but he seemed to be taking it all in stride when we caught up with him last week.
WSL: It's been a crazy year for you guys. How's the family vibe at the moment?
Mikey: It's good. We're all pretty stoked at the moment. Owen's having a kid so that's a pretty big thing and I'm about to be an uncle! And I'm happy for Tyler. She's back and surfing better than ever and having fun while doing it. She's surfing her best and that's good to see. I know she can do better -- she could do a few airs -- but to see how she's going and putting heats together, it's really good to see.
WSL: Did you come to California in a support capacity?
Mikey: It was more a withdraw thing. I was supposed to be doing the US Open, but with my ankle injury I'm still not back to surfing. Quiksilver started the Young Guns Surf Contest so I get to judge that with Jeremy [Flores] and Zeke [Lau].
WSL: This is the same injury from Oz? What's the prognosis?
Mikey: Yeah, it's been four months. The tear is still healing. It's probably going to be another few weeks. I can surf now but not really too hard. I kind of just cruise.
WSL: What does the back half of the season look like for you?
Mikey: I'm planning on getting back in the water at end of August for the contest in Patin. I'm aiming for that. I was aiming for [the Vans US Open] but it ended up being too close. I still can't do anything above the lip. I would have been happy to surf the face but in Huntington you need to go in the air.
We all have our own things going but when we're all together it's just like it use to be.
WSL: There are a bunch of surf families that travel together and compete together. Yours seems a bit more unique.
Mikey: We've all grown up in a small neighborhood so we're pretty close and whenever something's up someone's always there. We all have our own things going but when we're all together it's just like it use to be. We're always having little tiffs. (Laughs) It's pretty fun, especially when everyone's in the water, hassling for waves and dropping in on each other.
WSL: Sounds like a lot of sibling rivalry there.
Mikey: (Laughs) Definitely. I always wanted to be better than Owen. Owen looked up to our big brother Timmy and I looked up to Owen and Timmy. So did Tyler. Now I look up to Tyler, too, how good she is in contests and how confident she is. She's so focused but at the same time she's having so much fun.
WSL: That combo seems like a new thing for her. I mean she never seemed unfocused but she does seem more driven. Did you see that change happen over the offseason?
Mikely: Yeah, I saw that change. She's a lot more focused and having more fun as well. During the offseason it's usually the family hanging out together and we always push each other. When she was home we'd make her go for those waves. We would push her into it. I was like, 'You're going, you don't have a choice.'
WSL: Right now Courtney Conlogue is Tyler's biggest threat to winning the title. What does Tyler need to do to get an edge over her?
Mikey: She just needs to do her own thing, go from contest to contest and surf heat by heat. She has to try to look at the big picture.
I think they're both good surfers and they're good in big stuff so it's whoever is surfing the best. It's going to be close but I think Tyler will do it. She's been working with Matt [Biolos] trying to get the best boards for the back-end of the year. She's already surfing Trestles so she can get better and better.
WSL: Why is Tyler going to win title?
Mikey: She's hungry for it. She wants it and her surfing has proved to everyone that she's really going for it this year. I think she can do it, it's just a matter of time before she wins, really.