The last time Julian Wilson was in the World Title conversation was 2015. Heading into the last event of the season ranked number 7 in the world he required everyone ahead of him to stumble.
After clinching the Pipe Masters and requalifying for the CT after a shocking 2014 there was hope Jules could steal the title. But the script never came to pass. Adriano would go on to clinch his maiden World Title, Brazil celebrated its second consecutive world champion, and the rest of the world was put on notice that the Brazilian Storm was here to stay.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Wilson is now 30, married and a new Dad as he heads to Hawaii in the hunt for a World Title. For Wilson 2018 has been a very big year.
Ahead of the arrival of their first child, Julian, originally from Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, made Newcastle his permanent base. Julian’s wife Ashley is from Newcastle and the couple wanted to be close to Ash’s family.
When a mountain bike injury sidelined Wilson pre-season, six weeks out from the first event of the 2018 WSL Season surf fans were aghast. Snapper was up in the air, a long stint of rehab loomed.
Then a week out from the event, his wife Ashley gave birth to their daughter. Wilson announced he would surf the first event of the season, but was quietly unsure he would even be able to paddle out for his heat. He then went on to win the season opener in near perfect conditions courtesy of ex-Cyclone Linda at Kirra.
Since joining the tour in 2011 he has only finished outside the top ten once and his third-place finish last year was a career best result. Aside from 2015, he was also an outside contender for last year’s world title. But Julian has yet to live up to his own expectations, or those of his fans. Only a world title will satisfy both parties.
With Mick retired from competition and on The Search and Parko calling time at the end of the season, Australian fans in particular will be looking to Julian bring the title home.
This season the Tour has been bathed in Green and Yellow. Just not the Australian kind. Brazilians have dominated at every stop on Tour. Wilson has been the only surfer to disrupt their dominance on the podium with wins at Snapper and France.
The World Title race comes down to Wilson, Toledo and Medina.
Medina, the 2014 World Champion and current World Number 1 is the clear favourite. Wilson is the only Pipe Master in the trio who defeated Medina at Pipe in 2014. The pair have arguably the closest thing we have to real rivalry on Tour. While Toledo boasts the most perfect 10s in the past five years.
Wilson will need to convert his superior free-surfing ability to heat scenarios in his quest for the crown. He will also need his rivals to fall out of the race early.
The results in Portugal created the following world title scenarios;
#If Medina finishes first or second at the Billabong Pipe Masters, he is world champion.
#If Medina finishes third Julian Wilson or Filipe Toledo need to win to claim the world title.
#If Medina finishes fifth to 25th, Wilson or Toledo will need a second or win at Pipeline to claim the crown.
There’s never been a bigger moment in Wilson’s career than right now. With an army of Swellians behind him the Coolum kid has plenty of support as he aims to clinch the title on the North Shore of Oahu. And as he has shown throughout 2018 with his back against the wall Jules knows how to dig deep when it counts.
The season decider Pipe Masters is scheduled to begin from December 8.