The 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour season is now well and truly in the rearview mirror but, from this vantage, we can appreciate the highs, mourn the lows much cleaner. The world’s greatest surfer, Kelly Slater, taking the first win of the season at the famed Pipeline, the same Slater sharing large Teahupo’o waves with his employee Nathan Hedge while the preternaturally talented Filipe Toledo sat and watched in awe, the same Toledo going to Lower Trestles, winning the crown and ushering in eight million (and counting) new viewers, all highs.
The low? Australian mainstay and Olympic bronze medal winner Owen Wright becoming ruthlessly decapitated by the WSL’s cold mid-season cut.
Wright, as you know, has as inspirational a story as any, suffering a traumatic brain injury at Pipeline in 2015 that seemed to have completely derailed any professional surfing hope then coming all the way back to tour, or at least until he was told to leave again.
Well, in a revealing new interview, the Irukandji shares a secret to his recovery.
Per News Corp.
“I was really full on, on trying to recover from the head injury that I had and it got to a stage where everything was just revolving around like physio or different movements and different brain exercises and I just didn’t have that pure joy and like ‘living’ back … I was just so caught up in recovery. So that’s where [camping] came into play.”
Wright went on to discuss how he loves being outdoors, eating stew out of a can, sleeping in a canvas tent that gets very hot in the day, poking the fire with sticks and pretending they’re cigars afterward, burning marshmallows to ash and insisting they taste better that way… or maybe that is just my childhood camping experience.
Maybe Wright’s is different. He takes his own child, anyhow, whenever he can and continues:
“If we are down by a river … where there’s rocks and stuff he’s just like ‘look at this rock, it looks like a dinosaur!’ I don’t hear that creativity when I’m at home … and then when we’re outside he’ll just play and play and play. I end up mucking around too and tapping into my child side and going along with his imagination. There’s nature, and there’s us, and you just get a better connection.”
Beautiful and continued shame on the World Surf League.
Real quick, though, did you ever read Walden Pond? What are your thoughts? I never have, in its entirety, but find the passages I stumble across dumb.