"I finally realized the difference between someone that doesn't care and someone that cares," Tyler Wright told a packed press conference in Sydney after her World Title win. "And I care."
Wright's renewed focus resulted in her dominant 2016 run, and quite possibly the dawn of a new era on the women's side. She's already joined Carissa Moore and Layne Beachley as a four-time event winner in a calendar year. A fifth win at Honolua Bay would equal Gilmore's record achieved in 2008, and that milestone may be all the fuel she needs to get pumped up for Maui.
The biggest obstacle to Wright making that piece of history will come from both Moore and Gilmore, who have shared the spoils at the iconic location the last five times the event has run. Moore will be especially dangerous, surfing at home in Hawaii and aiming for a three-peat in Maui.
Since capturing her crown, Wright has been in a whirlwind of press commitments and celebrations. She has partied with the Rip Curl gang in Torquay and in her hometown of Culburra, making sure she thanked all the people that have supported her, one by one. Now, though, she will need to leave that win behind and focus on this event, and the year ahead.
Carissa Moore is heading to Maui as defending champ, and hot off her Roxy Pro win in France. "I love competing at home," she told the WSL. "I love the energy of the ocean here and performing in front of family and friends. I just want to go out there, have fun and put on a show. There is no World Title pressure but there is still that desire to want to perform at my best." And if she's at her best, she has to be considered a favorite.
Gilmore, too, has happy memories of Maui. She has won there three times, and sealed her sixth world championship at Honolua in 2014. Her streamlined style suits the righthand pointbreak perfectly, and without a win this year, she has reason to get motivated.
Elsewhere in the field, one whose commitment never waivers is Courtney Conlogue. The more powerful the waves, the better she gets, and she will be looking to overcome the disappointment of a second successive World Title near-miss. One of the most prepared surfers on tour, Conlogue too will have one eye on 2017, dialing in equipment and prepping for another shot at the Title.
However, most eyes will be on Tyler Wright as she surfs her first event as World Champion. "I've grown up a lot in the last year," she also said in that press conference, "and because of that I decided that it was time to put my mind to it, to really throw everything into it."
That mindset will no doubt now shift to the Maui Women's Pro. There might not be a World Title up for grabs, but there's plenty on the line.
Watch the women battle at Honolua Bay daily from November 23 - December 5, live on the WSL website and app.