Meanwhile Sally slays Steph and stakes her claim at Surfest.
Riding longer boards, looking significantly fitter and utilising the coaching expertise of diminutive offsider, Glen Micro Hall, Matt Wilkinson is set for his best performance on tour in years.
Wilko claimed a convincing win in yesterday's Maitland and Port Stephens Burton Toyota Pro over Leonardo Fioravanti who is being referred to affectionately as the best Italian surfer since Mark Occhilupo.
Standing on the podium before a Newcastle crowd who were eager to claim the Central Coast surfer as their own, Wilko collected the 25 000 winner's cheque and made a nostalgic reference to the fact that his first major contest win had come at Newcastle as a junior. "I think I got about 200 bucks," he chuckled.
When pinned down by Tracks about what he hopes to achieve on tour this year the normally non-committal Wilko wasn't afraid to reveal his goals. "I'd really like it to be top five but I wouldn't be disappointed if it was top ten." After a couple of years hovering around the infamous bubble where surfers are in danger of dropping off tour, it seems Wilko is more determined than ever to achieve his full potential.
Certainly it seems Micro may just be the instrument of change Wilko is looking for. "Last year we did a bit but this year we're going to go full tilt and I'm going to try really hard, " insisted Wilko, almost surprised by his own ambition as he said it. It seems instead of the Willko entourage who have trailed him around tour in recent years we're more likely to see a squeaky-voiced Irish Australian barking instructions at his long-haired friend. Pictures a Jack Russell ordering a golden retriever to throw its tail more.
Meanwhile, the early signs suggest the women's tour will be more competitive than the battle for best dressed dame on Oscars night. Sally Fitzgibbon surfed a smart and polished final to defeat Steph Gilmore in the Women's Taggart Pro at Newcastle. The perpetually smiling Fitzgibbon kept the pearly whites on display as she made a bold statement about her 2016 ambitions. "Steph's chasing that number seven this year but I don't think I'll be able to let her have that one, " jibed Sally with more spirit than spite.
Rookies Keely Andrew and Chelsea Tuach will also make an impact on a women's tour where performance levels continue to improve exponentially.
See the full recap and results from Surfest, here.