For close observers of Julian Wilson's career, a future World Title win was never a matter of if, but when. The near-prodigy has been a darling of surf media practically since he arrived on the pro scene. As he boosted his way above lips all over the world, film parts in movies like Quiksilver's Young Guns series further burnished reputation as a bright young thing.
But now, as he kicks off his eighth year on the WSL Championship Tour (CT), Wilson may be coming into his own. While he's been a steady presence on Tour, last season -- which he finished ranked World No. 3 -- was his best yet. He carried that momentum all the way to Snapper Rocks this past week, where he won the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. His success there was all the more incredible because, just six weeks prior, he had a serious fall on his mountain bike and ruptured the AC joint in his shoulder. Not only that, but just two weeks before the Quik Pro, his wife, Ashley Osborne, gave birth to their first child, Olivia.
Yet somehow, Wilson persevered through the pain, through the lack of training leading up to the contest, and even the heavier waves at Kirra, where the contest was relocated to for Finals day. After he won the contest, Wilson chatted about what his lead-up to Snapper was like, and what might have fueled him to the win.
World Surf League: From the start of the event, you seemed to have a new focus and energy. How were you feeling coming into the contest?
Julian Wilson: I came down [to Coolangatta] after almost no preparation, off five and a half weeks out of the water rehabilitating an injury. I came into this event and just wanted to see where I was at and see how I would fare. We just had our first little baby girl two weeks ago, and the whole experience with my wife going through that gave me an incredible amount of strength to come down here and give it a go. It's by far the least prepared I've been for the first event of the year. I'm usually probably over-prepared. I just found a way to navigate my way through the event, and through the injury and the pain. Physically and emotionally, it was a roller coaster.
You suffered a severe shoulder injury while mountain biking last month. How has your shoulder been feeling?
I woke up this morning and the contest was moved to Kirra, I was really nervous. It was a new challenge for [my shoulder], the waves were a lot bigger, of more consequence. Normally I'd be so excited to go to Kirra. I went down there and surfed my first heat, and the pain in my shoulder felt the worst that it had been throughout the event, and I was quite upset and wasn't sure how I was going to go through the Semifinals. Chris Prosser, the WSL physio, spent about 30 minutes on me and got me back on my feet, and put some confidence back into my shoulder. That helped me get back in the water, and then it held up quite well. I just started using the jet ski more, and made sure I didn't paddle against the rip.
What does it feel like to be a father?
It's the most special feeling I've ever had in my life. It's a whole new level of responsibility, and the most beautiful thing that I've ever experienced. Watching my wife go through labor and the birth of Olivia, my hat goes off to all the women in the world. I'd never experienced anything like that until I went through it. It gave me great strength to come in here and have a go.
Watch Wilson and the rest of the men's and women's WSL Championship Tour live daily when they compete next at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach, from March 28 - April 8.