In a fog delayed and dramatic Final of the Quik Pro France, Julian Wilson defeated Ryan Callinan to reignite his World Title campaign. Wilson came from behind to stop the injury replacement's giant-killing spree, using his aerial wizardry throughout a compelling day of professional surfing. Needing a big score late in the Final, the Australian launched a huge backside rotation, landed cleanly and scored an 8.67 to take the win.
"I want to dedicate this win to Pierre Agnes," said an emotional Wilson afterwards. "He was such a beautiful human being who has done so much for surfing in France. It's a really special day. To win for him, to get back in the World Title race and to have my wife and child here is amazing. It's all fairly overwhelming."
Julian Wilson's performance over Callinan was the logical end point as he cruised through his progressive gears over the course of the day. He started the morning with a huge straight air, went into the atmosphere in defeating Mikey Wright and then was positively stratospheric in the Semifinal with Medina, where he scored a perfect 10. His heats scores today of 14.10, 15.10, 16.67 and a Final tally of 15.34 showed the momentum he built.
"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 said. "Today there was so many opportunities and if I dialed them I knew I'd be rewarded."
Callinan's performance was no less impressive. Having being given a late injury replacement as the highest rated QS surfer after winning the EDP Billabong Pro last week, Callinan was the undoubted form surfer of the entire event.
He had posted heat scores of 16.10 and 16.80 in his Round 2 and 3, then started today with an incredible 18.50 in Round 4, the event's highest. In a remarkable run his scalps included Owen Wright, Filipe Toledo, Jordy Smith and Connor Coffin. Each heat featured a mix of traditional rail carves, tuberiding and sudden spontaneous explosions of tail high surfing.
"We've been working on my completions and having nothing to lose here so I surfed with a load of freedom," said Callinan. "I've also focused a lot more on the waves I'm surfing, rather the opponent or the conditions or the scores. I'm being way more present in every moment and taking everything as it comes and that seems to be working for me way better. To make a CT Final here was beyond anything I could have ever expected."
Gabriel Medina was the other big beneficiary of the day. With his Quarterfinal victory over Sebastian Zietz, the Brazilian secured the Jeep Leader Jersey for the next event in Peniche, Portugal. He also pushed Julian Wilson, literally, to new heights, playing a pivotal role in their Semifinal which was one of the most dynamic heats of the year.
"That was a good heat, I'm happy with my surfing and my performance and Julian got a 10. It is what it is," a relaxed Medina said afterwards. "There's two events to go and this is a keeper result. I'm in the lead, so I'm happy. France has always been great to me."
Conner Coffin also moved up into the top 10 with his best finish of the year. Ryan Callinan eventually had too much firepower in the rip bowl lefts in their Semifinal, but earlier in the day on the outside bank in particular Coffin's mix of power and style was on point.
"I feel like I have been knocking on the door. I had good results with 5ths and Uluwatus and J-Bay and a 9th at the Surf Ranch, so this seems a validation of all the mental and physical training we've been working on," Coffin said. "Obviously waves like today play to my strengths. When there's tubes and big green French walls that's when I love surfing the most."
Of the beaten Quarterfinalists it was Mikey Wright and Sebastian Zietz who will head to Portugal as the most satisfied. With their fifth place finish both have officially secured their places on the CT for 2019.
"It's been a great comp with epic waves. With the power I could just surf the way I like," Wright said. "It doesn't need a whole lot of overthinking, you just need to rip in. Losses are never easy, but I'll take it. I've qualified for the CT and I brought some airs in to my game in that heat with Julian. It's all good."
Next stop on the Championship Tour is the men's MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal Oct. 16-27. Watch live on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook.