CULBURRA Beach's two-time world surfing champion Tyler Wright will miss the first half of the season as she continues to struggle with illness.
Wright contracted influenza on a trip to Africa last year and, after cutting her season short, has been floored by post-viral symptoms.
Wright made the call on Thursday before the WSL season opener on the Gold Coast, conceding the 2020 Olympic Games "seemed another world away".
The 24-year-old was coming off back-to-back world titles last season but can barely last 30 minutes in the water due to fatigue.
"You're symptomatic almost always, with light and sound sensitivity, headaches and brain fog," Wright said.
"Stressful situations and little tasks become extremely difficult without your body working normally too."
Wright has resorted to meditation, reading Harry Potter and cultivating fruit and vegetables in an effort to stay at an unfamiliar slow pace that will aid her recovery.
"The athlete side of me kind of feels hopeless because I'm so used to "doing" to get better ... but doing that with this illness just ends up with you on the floor in a puddle of tears," Wright said.
"I've surfed a couple times on a foamy or fun boards; it feels amazing for about 20 minutes, but I get overexcited and it costs me quite a bit.
"Being in the ocean though has always made me feel better even on the worst of days...even if it was just for a minute."
The earliest forecasted return is July's WSL event in Jeffrey's Bay in South Africa, where Wright pulled the pin last year.
"Jeffreys Bay is the earliest I'll return to competition, which would be kind of poetic I guess considering that's when I withdrew last year," she said.
"That said, we'll see how the recovery continues to go and make another assessment the closer we get."
Surfers are also chasing qualification for Tokyo's Olympics, but Wright isn't thinking that far ahead.
"Getting a week without symptoms would feel amazing right now, so the Olympics has seemed like another world away," she said.
"Women's surfing has never been in a more healthy place with strong-minded individuals leading the way.
"If I'm watching from home I will be very proud."
Gold Coast's season-opening event at Snapper Rocks begins on April 3 - with Tyler's brother Owen and Mikey competing, as well as Gerroa's Sally Fitzgibbons.
Australian Associated Press