“It’s a high-risk wave. Personally, as an individual, no, I don’t want to go and surf Pipe."
There is no more compelling story within pro surfing than the Wright family.
Even the most cursory examination reveals myriad story lines: the two-time world champ Tyler who won a tour event at fourteen, qualified at sixteen and who threw it in briefly before returning to the tour and carving and plating her two titles.
Owen? Returns from a catastrophic brain injury, bleeding on the brain, paralysis and (temporary) inability to speak to win his first event back on tour one year later and return to his normal position as a world title contender, although this year’s mid-year cut is proving troublesome.
Mikey? Hot and salty and greasy (like a sunbathing German) and a sometime wildcard.
And, all three of ‘em swindled for a total of $1.5 million after a family friend turned bookkeeper salted agambling addiction with the storied surfers’ cash.
A lovely field to plough.
In the first episode of the seven-part Apple TV series Make or Break, we are transported back to December 2020, to the commencement of the 2021 tour.
Tyler Wright is the hub upon which the episode revolves. Wright, often combative, is curiously tranquil here, eyes with a new placid look, sheepish even, although she lights up when it comes to men etc.
“Surfing is sexist,” says Wright. “Look at the sexism within surfing. You do look at the first event. Boys are at Pipe, women are at Maui… historically, the women haven’t been allowed to have a permit at Pipe.”
Wright’s wish for a Pipe showdown is granted when a man is killed by a shark at Honolua Bay during the event’s waiting period forcing tour organisers to shift the final from Maui to Oahu.
“I believe in the women on tour,” she says at a meeting to discuss the shift. “It’s an opportunity missed if we don’t show up. It’s a moment in women’s surfing history. At the same time, fuck, it’s Pipe.”
Cameras follow Wright’s prep for Pipe final with Hawaiian Carissa Moore. Her coach is Kekoa Bacalso – the Hawaiian-born 2009 ASP Rookie of the Year; shaper is the wizard behind John John Florence’s boards, Jon Pyzel.
We sit on the deck of the Rip Curl house as Wright examines a four-to-six-foot day and admits she wouldn’t want to surf it recreationally.
“It’s a high-risk wave. Personally, as an individual, no, I don’t want to go and surf Pipe… I’m happy not to go out just now,” she says. “Yeah, nah, ain’t going out…”
Wright wins event, Carissa second.
Episode shifts to Kelly and John John at Pipe. Ep two, Gabriel vs Italo.
Make or Break premieres tomoz on Apple TV. Sign up for the free trial, watch the eps, get out.