TYLER Wright returned 12 months later to fulfill her promise.
After her uncle passed away suddenly, Wright was determined to win the world title for him.
It was a fitting scene, standing on the beach in France, trying to hold back the conflicting emotions of elation and heartache.
Wright would take away the World Surf League trophy at the same event as her uncle last saw her win a year earlier.
“I promised my uncle, even though he’d already passed away, that I’d win it this year,” Wright said.
“And it’s the last event he ever saw me surf, that was the most important thing.
“So it was in his honour and my whole family and the community that I come from.
“This is my gift for you guys, because I don’t know how to give anything else back.”
Wright usually wears the No.13 shirt while competing, but had No.3 on her back during the event final, which she lost to Hawaii’s Carissa Moore. It’s her brother Owen’s number, a tribute as he returns to full fitness after suffering a severe head injury last year.
The day before the Pipeline Masters, Owen had taken a heavy fall on a wave and was later taken to hospital disoriented and with limited body movement.
It’s been a long road back for the Thirroul-based world tour professional who took months to stand on a surf board again. But as he works towards a comeback, Tyler’s moment of glory came in Owen’s honour, as well as their uncle’s.
“I’ve been home for four days in four months,” Tyler said.
“It’s really hard, especially when everything in your entire being wants to be home, because you know things are happening.
“To be able to come out and do it for them – and for me – but for them, I love them so much and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.”
Owen took to social media in celebration of the victory.
“I'm so incredibly proud of you and grateful that you are my sister. You make a better number 3 then I ever could. Big love T,” he wrote.
Wright held an unassailable lead after American Courtney Conlogue narrowly missed a place in the final.
However, she was under the impression she needed to win the event to seal the title and was shocked when friends and rivals, including six-time champion Steph Gilmore, congratulated her.