“I felt good and I felt committed to the challenge, but it just didn’t happen,” Julian Wilson said after losing his Round 2 Heat to wildcard Marc Lacomare. 

Now you can’t say Julian Wilson wasn’t prepared for the Quik Pro France. He was the first visiting pro to set up camp in Hossegor, arriving at least a week before the waiting period started. In those early days in thumping 8-to-10 foot La Graviere shorebreaks there were many sessions when not only was he the only pro dodging the lumbering water axes, he was the only surfer out there fullstop. 

Apart from those exfoliation sessions, there’s was also ice baths and spa days to deal with the jet lag. There’s been daily sessions with his coach Andy King, and then even longer video analysis. They’d been working on his key weaknesses, isolating the areas he needed to work on and doing the appropriate drills. 

Not exactly known for his clinical approach to training, he’d definitely stepped up his commitment to that analysis aspect of his competitive surfing. Now he wasn’t running the sandhills and vomiting up baguettes in the hot French sun, but there was a sense he’d committed to finding a new balance. Previously worried about how processes could grind off the edges off natural freewheeling talent, he’d focused on the extra, systematic 10 per cent that is needed to get to close to a World Title. 

And then, in the space of an hour, over two heats, all that work, all that concentration, all that expectation, all that focus was obliterated and left strewn in tatters across the football sized field lineup that was the shifty outside banks of La Graviere. 

It was Julian’s first ever trip to the second round of the Quik Pro and that in itself was part of the problem. While the two men around him on the Jeep Leaderboard, Jordy Smith, Matt Wilkinson and John John Florence all stepped up their game in Round 1 (Florence especially after being boxed in by Italo in the first two minutes), Wilson exerted no pressure in his Round 1 heat, meaning that his next heat suddenly became of the most important of his career. 

And despite the prep, despite the talent, despite the fact he had dragged himself back into World Title contention over the last three events, when it came to the crunch, his surfing let him down. He was tentative on the two waves he fell on and that was the difference in the end. Mistakes happen, but it was the lack of intent that was the worry. He didn’t back himself when it really mattered, when everything should have been on the line. His opponent Marc Lacomare was workmanlike, but this was his first heat win in his third time here as a Wildcard. Wilson only had himself to blame, and to his credit, didn’t look anywhere but himself.    

“I’m just really disappointed to lose, the world title is my biggest motivation and this loss is a dagger to it,” he said. “At the moment I have to digest what happened and try to not to get too frustrated, but right now though I’m just super bummed.”