As the reigning World Champion and defending event Oi Rio Women's Pro event champion, Tyler Wright landed in Brazil with the upper hand. In the end, she ended up working for her win, surfing every heat in the event -- rather than skipping the sudden-death rounds two and four, she did her paces through them all.
And yet, none of that seemed to faze her. Wright went on to defeat French surfer Johanne Defay in the Final. That win put her back in No. 1 on the Jeep rankings, a spot in which she has become increasingly comfortable, alongside Stephanie Gilmore. Mere minutes after rising back into that heady place, Wright reflected on her season so far, and her goals for 2017.
World Surf League: Is there anything different between this year and last?
Essentially no. There's probably less pressure than there's ever been for me to do anything. But for me, the essentials are the same, competition-wise, and performance-wise. Lifting all my percentages up. I hope, in all my areas, I can lift 10 percent a year. For 100 percent all around.
So for example, your fitness level? Your heat strategy?
Yeah. Right now, it's my backhand. That's my number one priority in what I want to get better at. I spend a lot of time and energy on that, among other areas.
Is there a weight off your back, now that you've won a World Title?
It's interesting, because I never really felt it there, and now it's done: 2016, winning the World Title in France. It wasn't relief, but more that I knew that I could do that and that's what I did. More that I was stoked to be able to set out to do something and achieve it. And now it's a mind for being better, being greater. It's performance-driven. I know I can be better and I have the team to do better.
So in terms of goals, are you focus more on those incremental changes, or are you looking at the year as a whole?
My yearlong goal is focusing on the details that make up a year that I'm paying attention to -- what goes into a good, what goes into a good event.
How would you describe your experience at the Oi Rio Women's Pro?
It's gone quick we've a heat every day except for Thursday, so it's gone at a nice pace. Easy -- having three heats yesterday and two today, it's worked out well, you get into the head space of competing...The waves have been good here.
Catch Tyler Wright next at the Outerknown Women's Fiji Pro, from May 28 to June 2, live on the WSL website, app, and connected devices.