High hopes for a Hawaii showdown
PIPELINE is an exceptional place for surfers the world over, but for Julian Wilson, it represents so much more.
The Coolum Beach poster boy last year won the prestigious Pipe Masters to finish his Championship Tour campaign in stunning fashion.
A year later, he's back at the iconic Hawaii North Shore venue and this time he's in with a chance of winning the world title.
"It's pretty special to be back here again," he said during an opening lay day yesterday.
"The forecast is stacking up nicely and I'm just looking forward to getting as barrelled as possible out there and will try and get some of that momentum going again that I had in the event last year."
Indeed, a trademark swell is due. The season-ending event could get underway this morning.
Wilson, seventh in the rankings, needs to win at Pipe again and have other results fall his way to claim the world title.
"For me and (fifth-ranked) Owen (Wright), we're going out there to win the event," he said.
"It's obviously a bigger gap (to ratings leader Mick Fanning) than we both want but to still have a shot at it is a special thing and I'll be giving it everything I've got.
"Hopefully I will take care of what I can take care of and if I get lucky, I get lucky."
So the 27-year-old will attempt to defend his Pipe Masters title and win the world title.
"And the Triple Crown (of Surfing) is not out of the question yet as well, so it's going to be a really fun event," he said.
Wilson is still in with a chance of defending his crown in that competition, an accumulation of
points from three events in Hawaii, culminating with the Pipe Masters.
Wilson avoided the first event, the Qualifying Series Hawaiian Pro, instead focusing on preparing for the world title showdown at Pipe.
But he competed in the second event, the World Cup of Surfing, another Qualifying Series event. It provided a perfect warm-up for Pipe as he finished second there, behind Fanning.
Eighth in the Triple Crown standings, another strong outing in the third event at Pipe could see him take that mantle again.
Others in contention for the world title are Fanning, Filipe Toledo, Adriano de Souza, Gabriel Medina and Owen Wright.
"All the energy is on him (Fanning)," Wilson said.
They are good mates and were involved in a notable shark incident at Jeffrey's Bay during the season.
This week Fanning helped carry Evan Geiselman from the water after the American suffered a heavy wipe-out at Pipe.
He is recovering.
"I was just walking down the beach and saw Evan pull into one," Fanning said.
"It was extremely fortunate that something bad didn't become worse.
"I think we always know it's dangerous (at Pipe) and it's a 50-50 chance.
"You know you have to put yourself over the ledge and do that to get the best scores. In the same sentence though, you just have to have a calculated risk about it."
- STEELE TAYLOR