Tyler Wright back on top with historic win

Tyler Wright won the WSL season-opening Maui Pro at the iconic Banzai Pipeline surf break.
Tyler Wright won the WSL season-opening Maui Pro at the iconic Banzai Pipeline surf break.

After three long years wrecked by debilitating illness and the disruption of a global pandemic, Tyler Wright is back on top of the surfing world.

The Australian won a historic Maui Pro on Monday at Hawaii's Banzai Pipeline to secure her first WSL event title since 2017.

In the first women's championship event held at the iconic reef break, Wright first eliminated compatriot Sally Fitzgibbons in a dominant semi-final display before pipping four-time world champion and local favourite Carissa Moore in the final.

It gives two-time world champion Wright a perfect return to the world tour after her 2018 and 2019 seasons were a write-off due to an ongoing battle with chronic fatigue syndrome.

"I don't really take stock in that," 26-year-old Wright told AAP about getting back to the winner's circle.

"I take stock in the journey of how challenging the last few years have been. How I'm showing up and why I'm showing up and that's all that really matters to me at moment.

"This is just, quite frankly, I train to do this. I train to be in the position that I've ended up in today.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't ... it's cool to see all the hard work over the last two years come together."

Tour organisers made the decision to have the women compete at Pipeline for the first time after a fatal shark attack on a local surfer near Honolua Bay halted the event there earlier this month.

Having eliminated Fitzgibbons, Wright needed a last-gasp ride to pip Moore in the decider.

A 3.17 ride with 30 seconds remaining lifted Wright's two-wave score to 8.34 out of 20 after Moore had snatched the lead with a 5.40 with under two minutes to go.

Wright said the opportunity to create history as the first women's event winner at Pipeline was exciting but also emotional due to the circumstances that had led to the venue change.

"I'm not gonna lie, it was an emotional roller coaster due to how we got here," Wright said.

"It came through tragedy and Maui and everyone was devastated. The WSL showed true leadership to treat the situation with compassion to get us here today.

"Given the opportunity to finish the Maui Pro at Pipeline, I think that I'm really fortunate to be here. It was a nerve-wracking few weeks and definitely an emotional roller coaster but I'm glad to be here."

Wright's 12th career event win, and second Maui Pro title, means she'll head to next month's second stop of the tour at the nearby island of Oahu as the world No.1.

Australian Associated Press