Stab Magazine | Julian Wilson Just Became A World Title Contender

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Julian Wilson Just Became A World Title Contender

By winning the 2017 Billabong Pro, Tahiti.

news // Aug 15, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Julian Wilson just pulled off the unlikely. With five minutes left in the final of the Billabong Pro Tahiti, he needed a combination of scores to win. Things were looking bleak. Then the Pacific provided.

Wilson posted back-to-back nine-point rides to comeback and steal the win. Gabriel Medina had been bullying his way around the lineup all day, but in the dying minutes of the Billabong Pro Tahiti Wilson rose to the occasion and knocked him square on his ass. 

“He’s tenacious, he’s got a big heart, we can leave that one out in the water,” smiled Wilson.

Medina had been getting under the bonnet of all his competitors. In the semifinals, there was a bit of a tussle between him and Kolohe Andino. They jockeyed, they bumped rails, elbows may have been thrown. They were both clearly wound a little tight. 

After three straight days of focused, intense competition it seemed like everyone down here at the end of the road was about to start singing Kumbaya and holding hands, but alas, perhaps a rivalry is finally born. 

Wilson’s semi against Jordy Smith was a sleeper. Besides the Medina/Andino wrestling match, the quarterfinals were equally groovy. The duel between Smith and John John Florence should have been a barn burner. It wasn’t. It was boring. A world title race hung in the balance, but in the end, Smith cruised to a relatively easy victory. They didn’t push each other up the reef or out of their comfort zone at all. Based on his post heat interview, Florence was okay with it. He carried on about “loving the ocean” and how lucky we all are.

“We all know John’s probably the best surfer in the world, and especially out here,” Smith glowed in his post-heat interview.

Sportsmanship be damned, isn’t this called “competitive” surfing? For his losing effort, Florence took home the A.I. Most Committed Award. 

“What? That’s awesome! I thought I was in trouble,” said Florence.

Yeah, John, WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow came out the lineup to give you a detention. Are you kidding? They should have waited and given the award to Wilson. Andy would have had none of this love fest. Imagine if him and Kelly Slater had faced off in a quarterfinal match-up at Chopes at the height of their rivalry. There would have been blood in the water. Remember, Andy’s the guy that famously said, “My whole driving force right now is to take his little pretty picture and just crush it.”

The WSL needs a heated rivalry perhaps more than anything. Look at the Andy/Kelly era, it shouldn’t be a foreign concept. Hell, WSL commentator Martin Potter used to scare the living shit out of his rivals. He’d more than bump rails, in his heyday, he was a straight-up hairy, competitive animal; and one of Andy’s favorite surfers. Smith, Florence, Wilko, they’re all in the title hunt this year, but they’re all too nice; too “humble”. You can’t be nice and humble in a world title race…or at least you shouldn’t be. Maybe Wilson can turn this trend around.

Screen Shot 2017 08 14 at 12.42.59 pm

After a sluggish start to the year, Jules has found a result and joins the title contenders in fifth place. (Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari)

Medina’s such an obvious dark prince. With pops Charlie tending to his every need, he’s increasingly become the isolated, lone wolf on tour. He’s the kind of athlete fans (outside of Brazil) love to hate. And we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t heard more than a few tour pros piss and moan about his tactics. Still, no legit rivalry persists. If only he had a foil. Cue Wilson!

Sure, sport is about performance, but it’s also about drama. The WSL has done an impeccable job hustling through this contest. With limited swell and a hell of a lot of weather on the way, they jammed through three straight days of competition, and that ain’t easy. Hats off to everyone for the hustle. But now as we enter the back half of the season with so many in the hunt for the title, it’s time to stir the pot a little. A rivalry or two would certainly go a long way in making sure it doesn’t all fall flat by the time the boys hit Hawaii.

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