Wilson keen to lead new era of Aussie surfing
SURFING: Australian surfing is in the midst of generational change but world title contender Julian Wilson isn't going anywhere and wants to be the next man up.
Wilson can win a maiden world title if he makes the final of December's Pipe Masters in Hawaii, where countryman and 2012 champion Joel Parkinson will farewell professional surfing.
Mick Fanning waltzed into retirement earlier this year, ending an almost 20-year stint on tour alongside Parkinson that included three world titles.
But in Sunshine Coast talent Wilson Australia has a fresh-faced, modest character ready to shoulder the load.
"Our stables are changing and our year-in, year-out world title contenders are moving on,” Wilson told AAP.
"It leaves big shoes to fill and I'm definitely very proud of representing Australia. I'm glad I've got a hope and something for the fans to get excited about.
"But that (extra attention) is only going to happen if I step up and then if I can perform well that becomes part and parcel with it.”
Wilson, 29, has enjoyed a lower profile with Fanning and Parkinson leading the way but says the transition is timely.
"I'm proud for giving myself a chance (to win the title) because it's definitely been the hardest year,” he said.
"With the (shoulder) injury and time management, having our first child, I've been tested from all angles but been able to produce when I really needed to.
"I've learnt more about myself in one year than I have in my whole career.”
Equal second on the rankings, Wilson can run down leader Gabriel Medina on the final leg at a famous break he has conquered before.
Now fully recovered from a shoulder injury that's restricted him all season, he'll arrive in Hawaii as the only non-Brazilian to win a tour leg this year.
'I was kind of paddling with one-and-a-half arms," he said of the ruptured joint suffered in a pre-season mountain bike crash.
"There was a big swell (in Tahiti) and I was quite nervous about how I'd get through that event.
"So to have a break (before Pipe) and get stronger will give me some confidence I haven't been able to find in the scarier, big-wave events.”
THE TITLE EQUATION
- If Gabriel Medina (56,190 points) makes the Pipe Masters final he will win his second world title.
- If Medina finishes third or fourth and either Julian Wilson or Felipe Toledo (equal on 51,450 points) win, they win the world title.
- If Medina finishes fifth or worse, Toledo or Wilson need to finish first or second to claim the title.
January - Ruptures shoulder joint in mountain bike crash.
March - Recovers in time to win Quicksilver Pro on the Gold Coast a week after the birth of his first child.
May - A semi-final appearance in Brazil, the year's third leg, keeps Wilson atop the leaderboard.
June - Brazilian surprise packet Willian Cardoso emerges to deny Wilson a second tour victory.
September - Wilson rediscovers his aerial prowess to impress with fifth at the man made Surf Ranch's tour debut.
October - A win in France propels Wilson back into the title reckoning while another fifth in Portugal completes a solid tour of Europe.