Stab Magazine | Matt Wilkinson wins the 2016 Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast
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Matt Wilkinson wins the 2016 Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast

Matt Wilkinson has put away the costumes and rollerblades and focused on becoming a genuine World Title threat in 2015. The Australian defeated the reigning world champ, the reigning Quiksilver Pro champ, and the form surfer of the event on his way to a maiden World Tour victory at the Quiksilver Pro today. “I had […]

news // Mar 17, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Matt Wilkinson has put away the costumes and rollerblades and focused on becoming a genuine World Title threat in 2015. The Australian defeated the reigning world champ, the reigning Quiksilver Pro champ, and the form surfer of the event on his way to a maiden World Tour victory at the Quiksilver Pro today.

“I had a few years where I was just dawdling along not doing everything I could to do to win and this year I really knuckled down,” he said. “I really wanted to get a win this year. For it come in the first event feels unbelievable.”

Wilko opened the final in signature style, winning the priority battle and taking off next to the rock at Snapper, before pegging two severe backside hangers to the pocket succession for an 8.6.

Kolohe Andino stayed in contact, opening with a pair of slashing, hooking combos on shorter, softer waves to move to a slender lead. He even threw some gamesmanship into the mix, cynically putting himself in the path of Wilko at the 17 minute mark on smaller wave, Wilko responding with a none-too-subtle spray in the face.

WIlko Quartz Kirstin

Your (pleasant) surprise Quik Pro champ. WSL/Kirstin

But Wilko controlled priority expertly, his patience paying with five on the clock when he found a vertical mid-length runner and put up a backhand belt to fin slide and another vertical jam for a 5.6 and the lead. A late flurry on the buzzer saw both surfers try to improve their situation, but it wasn’t enough. Wilko held on to become the third goofyfooter in history to claim the Quiksilver Pro, following on from Mick Lowe in 2004 and Gabriel Medina in 2014.

“The tour this year is stronger than ever with so many good rookies and the top guys from the last 10 years still here,” he said. “To be back in such good waves and doing it font of my friends is the best feeling in the world.”

“I felt like the last few years I’ve had lots of close heats not go my way and I’ve had a lot of small mistakes that have cost me heats, which in turn costs you events,” he said. “I felt like I surfed a lot of smart heats, my surfing felt good and every time I had a section I felt like I connected really well.”

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Filipe was in a bad way following an injury during the match-up against Wilko. WSL/Kirstin

Earlier in the day he’d advanced over reigning world champ Adriano De Souza and reigning Quiksilver Pro champion, Filipe Toledo, in respective quarterfinal and semifinal match ups. The latter decided in part by a hip injury to Filipe. Following his win at the Quiksilver Pro, he attributed much of his success to a renewed sense of self-believe and focus given to him by coach and mentor, former World Tour surfer Glen Hall. The Irish-Australian surf coaching both winners at the Quik Pro, in Wilko and Tyler Wright.

“It just puts an extra bit of confidence in there to know someone is in your corner who’s such a great heat surfer, who reads the ocean so well,” said Wilko. “And just having someone there to be looking at the ocean, either changing my decisions or backing up what I already thought gives you a lot more confidence.”

“I’ve always had people telling me, ‘you can win’ and I guess I had to believe it myself instead of everyone saying you should be top five or whatever,” he said. “I think you really have to change your mindset to believe in that.”

Kolohe Quartz Kirstin

Kolohe, coming real close to a debut World Tour win. WSL/Kirstin

For Kolohe Andino, the runner-up finish was a satisfying given he’d spent the month prior to the event out of the water with an injury. The Californian revealed he’d undergone a rethink of his competitive approach in the off-season, scrutinising footage of everyone from Andy Irons to Carissa Moore in a bid to reinvigorate his surfing.

“I feel like it’s mental for me,” said Brother. “I feel like a lot of times I wanna do my best surfing, and I’ll do an air because I feel like that’s my best surfing. But really, if you just step it back to 80 percent and let the wave do the talking, you still get the nine.”

Kolohe knocked out the surprise packet of the event, Stu Kennedy, in the semifinals, holding off Stu despite his impeccable wave selection and damaging frontside power and flow attack.

Kolohe Update

Kolohe did this all week. WSL/Cestari

“My whole life I’ve wanted to surf backhand like Taj and forehand like Mick Fanning,” said Kolohe. “Now I’m up against them I watch the guys who surf well but who do easy manoeuvres. I dunno, it’s a kinda weird thing because to get a good score you have to rip the crap out of a wave but you can do it by surfing easily and there’s a theory to do that.”

“Sometimes you have a lot of things going through your mind but if you just do an easy thing that throws a lot of spray and it looks good and powerful you’re gonna get a big score.”

It was advice women’s winner, Tyler Wright, seemed to follow. The younger sister of injured World Tour surfer, Owen Wright, and older sis of Quik Pro men’s wildcard destroyer, Mikey, Tyler showed incredible composure and impeccable wave selection in defeating two world champs – Carissa Moore and Steph Gilmore – on her way to an eventual victory over American Courtney Conlogue in the final.

“It was never a question of if, it was just a matter of when for me,” she said following her crucial semi-final win over Carissa Moore. “I knew the wave was coming, one of those waves has to come each heat and I kind of just wait on that and it did.”

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You can almost already feel the afterparty. WSL/Kirstin

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