The gut-wrenching, heroic story of how one of Australia’s finest surfers overcame brain injury and despair to win an Olympic medal.
On the morning of 10 December 2015, Australian surfer Owen Wright entered the water at Pipeline, Hawaii, on the eve of an event that, all going well, could have made him a world champion. But after being pounded by a set of monstrous waves, he was later that day fighting for life en route to a O’ahu hospital, where scans revealed extensive brain trauma. In this inspirational memoir, Wright chronicles the events leading up to that fateful day, as well as the months and years that followed as he battled to regain, firstly, basic functioning, and eventually the capacity to compete again at the apex of surfing.
Against the Water carries the reader back to Wright’s boyhood in the tiny New South Wales South Coast town of Culburra, where his father, Rob, determined to raise champions, turned family life into a kind of boot camp. While eccentric, the father’s methods bore fruit: the Wrights of Culburra would become Australian surfing royalty. Wright’s story lays bare the complex relationship with his father – the adoration, the fight for independence, the fallings out, the reconciliations, the poignant denouement. It also captures Wright’s life-altering love for Kita Alexander, the beautiful songstress who abandoned a blooming career to help nurse a broken man she’d known for a few short months back to health.
Told in a spare, intimate style, Against the Water is the moving account of an athlete who refused to accept that his best days were behind him. Owen stopped at nothing not only to rebuild his identity but to construct a better one – he’s now a husband, father, dutiful son and an Olympic medallist in a sport whose spirit courses through his veins. Against the Water also raises fundamental questions around family and competition. What, ultimately, is our duty to our children? At what point does bravery become folly? How much should we sacrifice for the sake of another? Once read, Wright’s story will not be forgotten.