On paper, Tyler Wright entered the 2017 Oi Rio Pro in a comfortable position. She was the reigning World Champion and defending event winner. Having reached the pinnacle of the sport the year before, the expectation was that the Australians domination would continue.
But prior to Brazil, Wright had simply sparked rather than caught fire. The consistency was there, but she hadn't landed a killer blow on the Australian leg, where she'd made one Final, and lost it, at Bells.
At the start of the Oi Rio Pro the sense that something was a little bit awry was evident in the early rounds. Unexpected losses to Coco Ho in Round One and Sage Erickson in Round Three meant Wright was forced to bear down and grind out victories to get herself back in the event.
However, Wright, working with coach Glenn "Micro" Hall, was at this stage all about the process. She bounced back strong from those early defeats by trusting in the methods that had previously secured her the Title.
"Now it's a mind for being better, being greater," she said after notching a heat win in Brazil. "It's performance-driven. I know I can be better and I have the team to do better."
Wright was true to her word as she accelerated through the gears to reach peak Tyler by Finals Day. When her main rival, Stephanie Gilmore, was knocked out in a surprise elimination in the Quarterfinal Wright was primed to take advantage. In her Semifinal against Sally Fitzgibbons, Wright applied relentless pressure. The World No. 3 never recovered.
In the Final against No. 4 Johanne Defay, Wright used the same tactics -- pressing early, putting Defay into a combination situation and delivering the knock out blow with a slashing 9.67 mid-way through the heat.
With the win Wright earned share of the Jeep Leader's Jersey with her friend and rival Gilmore. However, it was more than the result. This, as was her mantra, was all about the performance. She'd dug deep and found the extra percentage points that made her, at the time, the best surfer in the field.
It was a lead that she wouldn't really relinquish for the rest of the year. While this might have been the peak, and it turned out to be her only CT win of 2017, her level of consistency throughout the rest of the events saw her defend her World Title with a relative level of comfort. It was in Brazil though where she built that platform for success.