THE WRIGHT STUFF

COM­ING OUT OF THE SHAD­OWS OF HIS OLDER SIB­LINGS MIKEY WRIGHT IS CUT FROM THE SAME HIGH END CLOTH

Carve - - CONTENTS - INTERVIEW BY STEVE ENG­LAND PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF QUIKSILVER UN­LESS OTH­ER­WISE STATED

There’s more to Mikey Wright than the mul­let. Come dive into his brain box.

Mikey Wright is a big deal. Now 21 and on the hunt to make the WSL elite tour, he’s also at the cut­ting edge of the pro­gres­sive air game, he doesn't mind charg­ing slabs ei­ther. He’s had to deal with me­dia at­ten­tion since he was a grom, the suc­cess of sib­lings Owen and Tyler, and with his older brother’s ill­ness and re­cov­ery, and pulling out of comps to go and en­joy his youth.

Af­ter a gi­ant slay­ing run tak­ing out Me­d­ina and JJF at the Quiksilver Pro 2018 feels like big year for him, so Steve Eng­land though he’d bet­ter catch up to see what makes him tick.

I heard a re­ally funny story that you got your con­tract at Quiksilver be­cause when you were eight you burned the boss on an over­head day at Bells Beach. He was so im­pressed by your style, he of­fered you a con­tract in­stead of bury­ing you neck deep in the sand. Is this true?

Yeah. When I was younger I was down Bells. I think I was down for a Pro Ju­nior with my brother. I was out early in the morn­ing. Pin was on the in­side, and he was the boss of Quiksilver at the time. Any­way my dad pushed me into a wave and I went fly­ing off down the line in front him. Af­ter the wave I kinda pad­dled out the back and I saw he said some­thing to dad. I didn't re­ally hear or un­der­stand what he said, I thought I was in trou­ble for burn­ing him … But what he was ac­tu­ally say­ing was like, “Do you want to come up the factory? Bring the grom.” When we got in there they showed me around, and asked if I wanted to ride for them, so yeah and it all started from there.

The Wrights have all grown up in the me­dia spot­light, yet you have all main­tained very per­son­able de­meanours. What do you put this down to?

I think it's just how we were brought up as kids, we were al­ways brought up to be re­spect­ful. I never aimed at be­ing in the spot­light, I was just fol­low­ing what my older broth­ers and sis­ters did, and had fun with it, and was al­ways su­per quiet. When you grow up in a big­ger fam­ily if you start get­ting a big head your big brother is al­ways go­ing to slap you down. Slap you back to square one. So it's helped be­ing in a big fam­ily. Also com­ing from small town where ev­ery­one knew ev­ery­one and we all had each oth­ers back helps. It was good grow­ing up there. I'd walk ev­ery­where as a kid and town, never had any trou­bles.

It can be tough for a teenager grow­ing up in gen­eral, try­ing to find them­selves, carve out their own per­son­al­ity, es­pe­cially un­der the pres­sure of so­cial me­dia. Now you are 21 what tips would you give to a 16-year old you?

Go and do the same over again! Don't take things too se­ri­ously. Go have fun. Make life en­joy­able. That's what I do now.

So grow­ing up in an era of so­cial me­dia can be tough. Have you ever been put un­der pres­sure by trolls?

Not re­ally, I just have laugh with it to be hon­est. It's not real life. I'm here happy as and they can say what­ever they like and I’ll still have fun. If you are hav­ing fun no one re­ally gets to you...

So I think it was three years ago you said “Comps are over­rated….” Are you still of this opin­ion? You seem to be enjoying them!

I think a lot of peo­ple took that the wrong way. I had stopped do­ing com­pe­ti­tions but I al­ways knew I was go­ing to come back. I just just wanted to go and live my teens and have fun grow­ing up. Get some ex­pe­ri­ence of life out­side of pro surf­ing. I think a lot of peo­ple took it as face value. What I meant was that comps were over­rated to me at that age and time of my life. And they were. I didn't want to do them. I was hav­ing more fun trav­el­ling with my best mate mak­ing clips. And those years def­i­nitely helped me to be the per­son I am now.

This year I’m read­ing “Mikey Wright elim­i­nates Gabe Me­d­ina”, “Mikey Wright elim­i­nates John John…” Some pretty heavy head­lines here.

(Laughs) I don't re­ally read any­thing into that. I just take them as heat wins. I feel like I don’t

IF YOU ARE HAV­ING FUN NO ONE RE­ALLY GETS TO YOU...

want to read any­thing in case I get a big head. I’m sure if I did my older broth­ers would be pretty quick to slap me back down to earth. I was pretty happy with it all, but it's an­other heat and an­other learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and get­ting bet­ter at com­pet­ing and do­ing bet­ter at what I love.

What hap­pened to Owen was heavy, but it must have been tough as a younger brother. How did you deal with it all?

It was tough, we came back to­gether as a fam­ily to deal with it, and that was good. What hap­pened to him was heavy, but in his down­time it def­i­nitely brought us all back to­gether. We had some good times off and when he was down south.

And now he's on fire, so at some point I guess we are hav­ing an all Wright heat. How is this go­ing to go down? Are you guys su­per com­pet­i­tive be­tween your­selves or is it got to be a bit weird as you are so close?

Owen and I have never had a heat be­fore so it's go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing if it ever hap­pens. We are pretty com­pet­i­tive. I’m def­i­nitely not go­ing to give it to him easy. I’ll do ev­ery­thing I can to smoke him! (laughs)

So there will be win­ner and loser … Any ban­ter af­ter­wards you think?

No. It’ll be over straight away. As soon so we hit the beach. We’ll be stoked for each other no mat­ter who wins. We won't be off each other or any­thing like that.

It feels like there’s new im­pe­tus in the air game at the mo­ment. Al­bee Layer, John John, and your­self are throw­ing some crazy tweaked ro­ta­tions. Does it feel like that to you? What do you think is driv­ing it?

Yeah def­i­nitely it's stepped up a gear. When I was a grom there were only re­ally air re­verses. One of my main mo­ti­va­tions was go­ing on a boat trip and see­ing Matt Me­ola throw a full ro­ta­tion airs right out into the flats. Fore­hand and back­hand. And I mean right out in the flats. Not on the wall or any­thing, right out there. That kind of changed my per­spec­tive on airs. From then I kind of knew there was no such thing as “You can't land airs in the flats..’ And if you can land there you can go big­ger, longer and higher. Now I’m watch­ing Al­bee, Matt and John go­ing next level. I think Al­bee gets lot of what he does from snow­board­ing.

Do you watch any those guys?

A lit­tle bit. My main drive is that I used to jump around on tram­po­line a lot when I was younger and try all kinds of tricks and flips. Not for my surf­ing, just be­cause I liked jump­ing about on a tramp ... And then with the Mctwist it started with back­hand air re­verse and then I just tried to throw in some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. And it just kind of hap­pened.

To be hon­est I did not re­ally know what I had just done. But I thought 'I‘m go­ing to keep try­ing this!' But yeah, I think I should start watch­ing snow­board­ing a lot more. There's so much more we can learn. It's just so hard surf­ing; we are not strapped in. Even with skate­board­ing, skaters have such a small board be­neath their feet to grab so it's eas­ier. With surf­ing you have mas­sive ob­ject be­neath your feet and you have to try and

I JUST TRIED TO THROW IN SOME­THING A BIT DIF­FER­ENT. AND IT JUST KIND OF HAP­PENED

ma­noeu­vre that around. So I think its def­i­nitely still pro­gress­ing and it's def­i­nitely go­ing to get there, but it's just how.

Do you think an ar­ti­fi­cial wave with a ramp on it would help?

I think Kelly’s has that.

Have you surfed it?

No, but I'd love to. That's the only thing we don't have in surf­ing; the same repet­i­tive ramp. Ev­ery time, ev­ery wave is dif­fer­ent. Some places around the world have pretty con­sis­tent wedges, and I think Al­bee and Matt have found a cou­ple of ramps where the wave is quite repet­i­tive - you have speed sec­tions, ramps and good wind. Just a dream when it comes to prac­tic­ing airs. A wave that keeps pop­ping up and of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to keep try­ing an air over and over.

So who your fun­ni­est travel part­ner.

My best mate Wayne. We have had some pretty funny trips over the years. We have been mates since we were groms on the south coast. We used to play soc­cer to­gether - my older brother Tim was the team coach. Then we surfed the Board­rid­ers club to­gether at the week­ends. We both dated two best friends ... So we were al­ways hang­ing out. Then I moved away when I was 12. When I was 16 I moved back and he was do­ing film at school and had a cam­era, so we just started hang­ing again. Then he started film­ing me and we just started trav­el­ling, mak­ing clips and hav­ing a hell time along the way.

Big­gest inspiration...

My dog. I got col­lie cross poo­dle. He’s three years old and his name is ‘Ba­con'. He just fol­lows me ev­ery­where. Just loyal. I'll go surf for two hours and he’ll just sit on the beach and chase flies, then come back sit in the same spot wait for me on the wa­ter’s edge. He’ll watch the surf - he knows when it's me surf­ing - and when I come in he’s sat there wait­ing. He’s pretty smart. He also likes go­ing 4x4 driv­ing!

Do you miss him when you are away?

Yeah but my girl has him and sends me videos.

Do you ever Face­time him?

Yeah some­times, but it's bet­ter when she sends me videos be­cause when we Face­time, I don't know if he can hear me or not, but he kinda gets all devo’d.

Ah bless ... Have you got any­thing ex­cit­ing lined up for 2018?

Just do­ing the comps, keep com­pet­ing, have fun. I’m an am­bas­sador for Goodrich Tyres and I’m go­ing out to the Vic­to­rian high coun­try test­ing their wheels. Other than that do­ing comps, a few trips here and there ... And camp­ing with the dog and me girl. Camp­ing and fish­ing, hav­ing fun!

Wax on … wax off.

With all the shark ker­fuf­fle in West Oz re­cently the high performance surf­ing go­ing down around the comp has kind of fallen by the way­side. There were some rad ses­sions go­ing down. Still can't com­pute this rote.

He is, of course, handy on a rail and in the tube n'all. Obvs.

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