Australia’s Tyler Wright is on the verge of a drought-breaking, title-winning start to her World Surf League championship campaign after reaching the final of the season-opening Maui Pro in Hawaii.
For the first time in women’s tour history, competition was held at the iconic Banzai Pipeline, with Wright dominating Sally Fitzgibbons in an all-Australian semi-final on Monday.
Wright will face hometown favourite and four-time world champion Carissa Moore in the final after Moore defeated Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb in the other semi-final.
Two-time world champion Wright, 26, is chasing her first tour win since 2017 after a long battle with illness and chronic fatigue syndrome wrecked her 2018 and 2019 campaigns.
She scored a two-wave total of 10.50 to easily defeat Fitzgibbons, who could only score 2.87 in the heat.
Wright made a fast start to the heat, scoring a 3.83 straight out of the gate before a 6.67 later sealed the comfortable win.
Fitzgibbons barely got going as she rode just four scoring waves in the heat, with none of her scores getting above two.
“It’s a real equaliser out there now because it’s the first for the girls to be out there right now … it’s such an incredible moment in time,” Wright said.
“That heat was tough. Neither Sal nor I were backing down … she got hit a couple of times and my theory is the less I get hit the better.
“It’s hard out there so I’m just happy to get through this one and have another go.”
Moore, a three-time Maui Pro winner, scored 16.60 including a 9.60 ride to crush Weston-Webb (2.47) and book her final spot.
Wright and Moore previously contested the 2016 Maui Pro final, with the Australian emerging victorious on that occasion.
Organisers made the decision to move the final heats of the Maui Pro to Pipeline after a shark attack near Honolua Bay earlier this month.
Monday’s action was the first in over a week since the attack on a local free surfer halted competition.