Australian surf star Owen Wright will miss the season-starting Pipeline Masters in Hawaii – and his brother is in line to reap the rewards.
The 2021 men’s World Surf League kicks off this week, but Wright decided against making the trip to Hawaii in order to stay in Australia for the birth of his second child.
His wife Kita Alexander is due to give birth in early January, and the required two-week quarantine period for any traveller returning to Australia meant Wright risked missing out on the birth if he competed in Hawaii.
Wright’s decision to stay means his brother Mikey Wright is now guaranteed a spot at Pipeline.
Mikey, who missed most of 2019 with a serious back injury, is already slated for a surf-off against Leonardo Fioravanti.
The winner of that will gain an injury wildcard spot on the Championship tour for the entire 2021 campaign.
But even if 24-year-old Mikey misses out on that, he will gain a spot at the Pipeline Masters for Owen given he is next in line as an injury replacement.
It’s hopeful Owen Wright will be able to return for the Sunset Open in Hawaii, which runs from January 19-28.
Wright suffered a massive concussion in the lead-up to the Pipeline Masters in 2015.
The injury was so bad that Wright had to learn how to walk and talk again, and he was subsequently ruled out for the entire 2016 campaign.
The 30-year-old was able to make a fairytale return to the Championship tour in 2017, and he will be aiming to snare a maiden world title this year.
Defending world champion Italo Ferreira and 2019 runner-up Gabriel Medina are again expected to be in the thick of the action, while two-time world champion John John Florence is another major contender after overcoming back-to-back reconstructions on his right knee.
Julian Wilson, who finished 11th in 2019, and Wright (ninth) loom as Australia’s best chances.