“Seeing you last year was one of the saddest things I’ve ever been through. So if anybody was going to beat me today, I’m glad it was you.”
That’s what Matt Wilkinson had to say to one of his best friends, Owen Wright, 20 seconds after the final horn of the 2017 Quiksilver Pro.
Last year, Wilko was winning this very contest. Meanwhile, Owen was laying in bed, suffering from dizzy spells, wondering what had happened, wondering if he’d ever be able to surf like himself again.
In December of 2015, Owen sustained a head injury at Pipeline. A serious one — so serious that he had to take a year off from competitive surfing. It was a year full of trials and certainly. Nobody knew if Owen would ever come back. Then, a clip was leaked of him riding a long board. Then a clip of him riding a shortboard. Then he entered a few smaller events and did just OK.
Then he was here. Talking to Wilko. Not even trying to hold back the tears.
Shortly after those words were spoken, Owen dissappeared on the back of a Jet Ski. He stepped into a whirlwind of people cheering, people yelling, people crying, people asking him for photos. From there it was all madness.
But that, in the water out there, was the moment that defined the 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
What a year.