Determination burns behind Julian Wilson’s eyes. But right now, those eyes water in the wind of a howling La Graviere onshore. It’s overcast, windy, 10 feet and miserable. The beauty of the French WT event, however, is in the unpredictability of it all. Windblown and 10 feet today, sheet glass and six feet tomorrow. And Julian loves the challenge of it. His competitiveness saw him win the US Open of Surfing last month, but more pertinently it saw him into the final of last year’s Quik Pro, France. And it isn’t crazy to imagine a similar scenario this year. So, just what exactly is going on behind those eyes, right now in Hossegor…
Stab: What clubs have you got in your bag for France?
Julian: I’ve got six Mayhems and six JS for this European leg. The sizes don’t really vary too much, I’ve got a Mayhem fish, and my biggest board’s a 6’3″, then my shorties are all around 6’0″.
But, is France the kinda place where you need bigger backup? Not necessarily, no. It all just depends. I’ve got some shortboards that are quad fin setup and have more thickness to them, which I’d ride in bigger waves. It seems like a lot of the longer board stuff is coming back to getting a lot shorter. Just through what Kelly’s been doing and… people aren’t necessarily travelling with four or five step-ups anymore. It’s more like, keeping it around the shortboard range, but with a little more thickness or rocker, or a different fin setup.
Is it easier coming back to somewhere you’ve done well before, or harder? I think it’s definitely a good thing coming back to somewhere you’ve done well, because you know that you can actually do well at that place. France is a really fun event, because due to conditions, you can surf five different heats on five different boards. I like the fact that you’ve kinda gotta pick a board to suit whatever the waves are like, and trust it. I try to ride just one or two boards in an event, but last year in France I rode four different boards in the contest. The conditions can change every hour, depending on tide and wind. But that makes it a really fun event and it’s cool to see how everyone adapts to the waves.
Who are the guys to watch at this event? I think from past results, and especially due to the nature of the waves in France, I’d definitely say Mick and Kelly. They always know how to adapt and they have that belief in themselves to go and ride new boards or whatever in heats. Those guys have proven that they’re pretty deadly out there, they’ve both won the event. They’re the two strongest that stand out right now to me, for sure.