Australian Tyler Wright knew before a wave was surfed this year that she was going to be world champion.
Before the 22-year-old won four events, before she reached seven of a possible nine semi-finals, and well before she officially clinched the title on the beach at Hossegor in France on Wednesday.
“I already knew,” Wright told AAP.
“I wouldn’t have gone into this year saying that I was going after a world title and did everything that I did not knowing that I would do it.
“For me it was just I knew what I could do and I just had to do it pretty much.”
This year wasn’t the first time Wright had found herself in the title hunt though.
A highly-heralded junior world champion, she finished second in the 2013 and 2014 title races after being knocked out of contention in the season-ending event of both years.
But this time it was different.
“I’ve always said I didn’t want it,” she said.
“And it was true because I knew I wasn’t ready to win one yet. As hard as it is to say.”
Wright in action earlier this year
— tyler wright (@tylerGwright) July 18, 2016
Wright can’t put her finger on the moment her mindset changed.
However she said it was part of a journey at the end of last season, around the same time her close uncle died and her brother, Owen, suffered a serious brain injury while practising ahead of his own title fight in Hawaii last year.
She carried their spirit with her throughout the entire season, wearing Owen’s number in her final at the Landes break.
“I had such a hectic personal life that when it came to being at the beach, being at work, doing my job, it was very easy,” she said.
“All I had to do was put myself in a position where I could catch a wave. That was pretty much it. And that’s not very hard.”
She took on new coaches, spoke to a number of mentors on where she wanted her career to get and directed herself towards her maiden title, winning 33 of her 42 heats in all events along the way.
“I decided in my head and then I just did it,” she said.
“Once that decision was made it became really easy.”
With one event still to surf in Maui, Wright’s championship was confirmed when after she beat Tatiana Watson-Webb in her semi-final, chief-rival Courtney Conlogue of the USA was beaten by three-time world champ Carissa Moore in the other eliminator.
Wright went on to lose the final to Moore, but had already become Australia’s 20th world surfing champion, and the first since Steph Gilmore in 2014.
“I get to join the ranks of the people who have most inspired me in this sport. Steph, Carissa, Layne (Beachley), Lisa (Andersen) and the list goes on.
“And even on the men’s side as well, are you kidding me?
“I’m pretty psyched on that.”