Julian rediscovers his je ne sais quoi and stays alive in the title race.
Giant slob grabs, straight airs and fully inverted rotations – they all featured in a rejuvenated Julian Wilson’s flight path to victory in the Quiksilver Pro France. Wilson looked to have completely rekindled his love affair with the air as he dismantled Mikey Wright, Gabriel Medina and Ryan Callinan on finals day.
Although there were several highlights for Wilson, the wave that had the commentators peaking and the French hoards screaming came in the semi against arch nemesis Gabriel Medina. The fog-clearing, backside air rev, which he landed just a few metres from the beach, earned him a ten from all five judges.
It was a day, which represented a revival in Australian surfing. With a quarter final finish, Mikey Wright reasserted the legitimacy of his claim to a position on the WCT. Meanwhile Ryan Callinan’s second place finish and all-round performance indicated that he is now surfing much closer to his full potential. Australian fans will be hoping Ryan can make his presence felt in the upper echelons of the top 34 when he returns to the WCT next year.
Julian’s semi-final victory over Medina was particularly gratifying, given the fact it stifled Medina’s world title charge and reignited Julian’s hopes. While Toledo and Medina have claimed the air space in recent events, Wilson’s fully committed beyond-the-lip assault reminded fans that he is still one of the best high flyers. "It's something I know that can make a big point of difference and we've worked on the right times to go to the air," Wilson told the WSL. "Today there was so many opportunities and if I dialed them I knew I'd be rewarded."
Medina goes to Portugal holding down the number one slot on the Jeep Leaderboard. Based on form, history and the palpable confidence of his post heat interviews Medina is still favourite for the world title. The loss to Wilson will however bruise the ego a little and a slip up in Portugal could throw the door wide open for Julian. For Toledo the pressure to perform in Portugal ratchets up several notches, given his poor reputation in Hawaii. Things could still get interesting in the title race but Wilson and Toledo really need an early round ally in Portugal to step in and bring a stop to the irrepressible momentum of Gabriel Medina.