Bethany Hamilton overcame some self-described jitters Tuesday local time in her Round One victory over World No. 1 Tyler Wright and World No. 12 Tatiana Weston-Webb at the Outerknown Fiji Women's Pro. "I'm not competing much and my nerves got to me, I got ahead of myself at the end of my best wave and made a mistake," she said, with a shrug and a smile, describing her 8.17 ride. With her trademark forehand power-hacks, she'd done most of the hard work on the outside, however, and the flub didn't cost her much.
It's the second year running that Hamilton -- as a wildcard entry -- has defeated Wright early on at the Fiji Pro. Last year, Hamilton dealt Wright her worst loss of the season in an elimination heat in Round Two. This year, the win is less consequential (Round One is a non-elimination round), but equally compelling. "It feels so good to win my heat," she said, "I had the chance to open up and it felt good."
Ever an inspirational bright light, Hamilton brought her positivity to Fiji. "I'm so stoked to be the wildcard, I watch all the events and all the girls are ripping so much!," she said. Right on cue, she shouted "bula vinaka" to end her on-camera interview, thanking everyone in the native Fijian language.
Wright will get a crack at revenge in Round Four. After Bethany and Tyler both failed to win their Round Three heats, they've been matched up in the crucial elimination round. For Wright, who's tied with Stephanie Gilmore at the top of the Jeep Leaderboard, the consequences couldn't be heavier.