An Australian surfer has defied the toughest break in the world to win the Tahiti Pro in Teahupo & o, a village in French Polynesia, whose name loosely translates as & # 39; the place of broken skulls & # 39 ;.
Owen Wright, who wore a helmet to protect him from the razor-sharp reef below, dominated the solid wave to score 9.17 and 7.90 rides in Wednesday's final.
The combined 29-year-old score of 17.07 was too much for defending 14.93 from world champion Gabriel Medina.
Home to aggressive tiger sharks, Teahupo & o is one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world due to the size, power and speed of the waves caused by the sudden change in depth from 300 m to 50 m just 50 m from the coast.
It is well known on the surf circuit as the world's toughest wave – and one mistake can lead to fatal destruction.
Owen Wright from Australia is training for the pro-surf process of Tahiti during the famous Teahupoo break in Tahiti, French Polynesia
This image shows Owen Wright catching a wave to win his heat and proceed directly to the third round of the competition
Wright, who wore a helmet to protect him from the razor-sharp reef below, dominated the solid wave to score 9.17 and 7.90 rides in Wednesday's final
Although a questionable fashion choice, experts were not surprised that Wight wore the helmet after he suffered a head injury at Pipeline in 2015, almost killing him.
That wiping out and the almost fatal brain injury that he has sustained is something that Wright admits that he always thinks of when he surfs on a treacherous wave like Teahupo & o.
& # 39; Four years ago since that accident, I am definitely a more tame person, & # 39; said Wright, from Culburra, New South Wales.
& # 39; Certainly if the waves grow so large, I take all precautions.
& # 39; If I have that helmet option, it is really enough to calm down to see these huge waves just come and go & # 39; I am going, I am wearing a helmet, I can & # 39 ;.
& # 39; It just allowed me to go faster. For me it was a real blessing. & # 39;
Wright was not the only surfer who picked up the monster waves from Teahupo & o with extra protection.
The heaviest wave in the world: surf horrors at Teahupo & # 39; o
In one of the first competitions in the early 2000s, the competition boat with all the marshals and judges died – but luckily no one was killed.
In 2011, surfer Keala Kennelly was nearly killed when she wiped her head and face on the reef and left her with a huge deep cut.
In 2013, the Hawaiian surfer Bruce Irons was hit on the reef. His trunk and much of his skin were torn off when he was crushed against the rock like a rag doll before he was saved.
The same year, a Brazilian photographer broke three vertebrae after the boat in which she sat caught air from a wave and crashed back onto the water.
Spectators on boats watch while surfers compete during the 2019 Tahitian Teahupo & o surf tests during the famous Teahupo & o break on August 19
Australian surfer Ryan Callinan competes on the second day of the 2019 Tahiti Pro in Teahupoo, Tahiti, on August 25
American surfer Kelly Slater competes on the third day of the 2019 Tahiti Pro in Teahupoo, Tahiti, on August 28, 2019
The American Sebastien Zietz wore the headgear during his heat against Michel Bourez, while wildcard and test winner Kauli Vaast wore a helmet in his upset of the then world number 1 Kolohe Andino.
Wright said injuries, such as those he suffered four years ago, make surfers more aware of choosing safety over style in dangerous waves.
& # 39; This is one of the most horrible waves there is and it only takes a split moment before it goes wrong, and you really have no control when you are in those wipeouts; you can't hide or anything, & he said.
& # 39; It's easy to put on. It may not look that cool, but it is definitely a life saver. & # 39;
Photographers take underwater photos while a surfer disappears into the water and is almost thrown on the reef
Tahitian surfer Matahi Drollet rides the swell on August 24, 2019, in Teahupoo, Tahiti, during a freesurf session at the Tahiti Pro event in 2019
Australian surfer Owen Wright celebrates after winning the Tahiti Pro 2019 in Teahupoo, Tahiti, on August 28, 2019
After missing the entire 2016 campaign as he recovered from his injury, Wright famously returned to the tour with victory in his first event at Snapper Rocks in 2017.
Wednesday's win was Wright's first since then and he feels his health is better than at any time before the 2015 accident.
Victory takes Wright to eighth place in the world ranking and, as the leading Australian man on tour, in the box seat for one of the two men's spots for his country during next year's inaugural Olympic surfing competition.
& # 39; The Olympic Games are a huge motivator and, like my overall health, a huge motivator, & # 39; said Wright.
& # 39; I just tried to get that back and get a good performance back in the WSL Tour.
& # 39; That's how we reach the Olympics, only the performances, so that's what I focused on. & # 39;
The Portuguese surfer Frederico Morais competes on the second day of the 2019 Tahiti Pro in Teahupoo, Tahiti
Tahitian surfer Kauli Vaast competes on the third day of the 2019 Tahiti Pro in Teahupoo, Tahiti, on August 28, 2019
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