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|Owen Wright was quite the popular guy last year at Bells.|
The scaffolding is up, the press conferences are underway, the Icons are in town, and the ESPN Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach preview is live. There's a lot of anticipation at the moment.
Imagine how exciting it must have been last year for junior pro Owen Wright then 19-years-old, who came out in Round Two and extinguished the Kelly Slater flame. That heat rocked the surfing world and made him an instant rock star. Wright went on to beat the champ again in Portugal as part of a storied season, and is now a full fledged WCT competitor.
I caught up with Wright this weekend and asked if there are a lot of memories coming back as he heads to Bells again.
"Last year, Bells was a highlight in my career. It was a awesome experience. To surf against your hero in one of the most prestigious events there is, with massive crowds, and to perform well under that kind of pressure was a huge confidence booster," he told me.
You'd imagine it would be. He grew up in New South Wales. I wondered if there was some innate advantage that Wright had at Bells. He said not at all.
"These surfers are the best in the world and they can surf anything. But having surfed Bells a fair bit during my junior career is a big help."
|Wright floated past Slater in 2009.|
That's true, but ironically in the last twenty years, Slater may have actually competed there more.
At the Quiksilver Gold Coast Pro earlier this month, Wright started the season by axing Fred Patacchia and Pat Gudauskas, but lost to eventual winner, Taj Burrow. At this point, respectably sitting in the mid pack with the equal 17th crew, he just feels lucky to be keeping his current company. Keep an eye on the boy.