Interview: 2011 ASP World Tour Qualifier Julian Wilson
Julian Wilson was destined to make the World Tour. It really wasn’t ever a matter of if—it was more a matter of when. After an up and down run on the 2010 WQS, Julian, who bounced back from an injury earlier in the year, went to Hawaii not thinking he was going to qualify, but hoping “to make a few heats.” He did much more than that, and put himself right in the qualification mix, and even on top of the rankings for the Triple Crown for a spell. This is Julian Wilson we’d been waiting for. Julian Wilson, Triple Crown threat? Well, he was, and next year, he’ll be a World Title threat. Don’t underestimate the golden child from the Sunshine Coast, he’s going out on tour, and he’s promising results.
We caught up with Julian on December 13, fresh off the plane and on vacation at home, kind of.—Chris Cote
TransWorld SURF: So are you on vacation or something right now?
Julian Wilson: [Laughs] Pretty much. I’m actually getting straight into training, but yeah, on a bit of a vacation.
Last time I saw you in Hawaii, you were looking worried. It was right between Sunset and Pipe and you were stressing, trying to do everything possible to get in to Pipe, which you didn’t. But you did get some good news right?
Yeah definitely. I guess it all worked out for me in the end. There were seven people in Pipe that could have overtaken me and taken my spot and somehow they all lost out on the first day. It felt like it was pretty meant to be after not getting in to the Pipe contest.
Tell me about that day, watching Pipe, knowing that it was possible for you to qualify. Were you shitting yourself, or just trying not to think about it?
I thought there was a small chance in that first round because all the guys who were looking to qualify were up against wildcards and that was the key thing I was thinking about. I was in California, in and out of a few meetings, but yeah, watching it on my phone and whatever computer I could find. I watched all day up until Tommy Whittaker had his heat against Pat Gudauskas. When Tommy lost I was pretty sure I was in, but I didn’t want to celebrate. I had to double and triple check to be sure.
How did you figure it out for sure? It’s pretty damn complicated.
My brother and I had done the math before and had everything written down.
So what did you do to make sure?
I emailed Al Hunt and [ASP President] Brodie Carr and they told me I was on for sure.
You always hear about guys scratching and clawing their way on the world tour, but you seemed to do it with relative ease.
I was hell bent on qualifying. Then I was injured and out for four months. After that I knew it was going to be a big mountain to climb, but then I got a win in Sri Lanka, and thought I had a chance. Then I lost at the US Open, barley made a heat in Europe, then the movie came out and there was premieres and parties and stuff and that didn’t help my results much [laughs]. I did the Quiksilver Pro and won a heat against Bede, got a third in Canada, and the last three events really made it happen. I just wanted to go to Hawaii and make some heats to have a good seed. I knew I needed to make two finals and get better than a fourth.
Were you surprised that you actually did that?
It was super surprising. I went over there not thinking about qualifying, just thinking about trying to win each event. I wasn’t thinking about the points. When I came in from the final at Sunset a few mates said I was in the running. It was a real roller coaster.
No offense, but Julian Wilson isn’t the first name most people think of when they think of Triple Crown threats.
Exactly. It was my first year competing over there. I actually feel pretty comfortable on bigger boards cause I grew up longboarding, so bigger shortboards don’t really trip me out. I’ve been going to Hawaii for six years so I know what the waves are like. I was pretty surprised though, I didn’t think back-to-back finals in the Triple Crown was ever gonna happen for me.
What’s the difference in getting pounded in a jersey as opposed to freesurfing?
In a jersey you just have that adrenaline and the wipeouts aren’t as bad. You’re hungry in a jersey so the wipeouts don’t seem so harsh.
Who were the first three people you called when you knew you qualified?
I was with my brother Bart, so I called home and told my parents and my other brother. Then my best mate, Jimmy.
Was there a big ass party waiting for you?
Not yet, we’re having a barbeque, then it’s back to training.
You know you have a target on your back when you get on tour. There are a lot of expectations on you, how are you gonna live up to them?
That’s pretty much why I waited to come on tour. I feel like now I deserve a spot. I’ve proven that I can surf [laughs]. I’m not gonna get freaked out surfing against those guys on tour now. I’m feeling comfortable. I’ve watched a lot of rookie’s go on tour and just try to hold on to their spots, but I want to really make a run for it. Owen was a great example of what I’d like to do. It’s gonna be really hard though, I’ve got one of the last spots so every event I’ll be up against a top seed.
Trial by fire. Who should win Rookie Of The Year for 2010?
I’d say Owen, as an all around surfer; he’s done well at every location. He’s such a good competitor. He can adapt to all the different waves. He should be rookie of the year.
Besides you, who are the rookie threats for 2011?
Alejo Muniz will do a good job. He’s a solid surfer; he’s got all the airs and finners. I’m not sure he’ll do well at every event, but there’s a lot of locations he’ll do well at for sure.
Who’s the top dog if Kelly Slater doesn’t come back?
Mick is probably going to step up to the plate. He’s got the know-how that’s for sure. It will be fun to watch for sure. Mick will be hard to beat.
This is the World Tour Julian—are we going to see you getting pissed with fire in your eyes?
Just showing my inner Neco Padaratz? Yeah, there will be moments of passion for sure—I’m a pretty competitive person.
Last question, are you ready for the World Tour?
This is a dream come true, I’m ready to make the most of it.