Celebrated Coolum surfer Julian Wilson notched up his maiden ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) victory on Friday, besting a rampaging Gabriel Medina (BRA) in the dying seconds of the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
Although he was the 2011 Rookie of the Year, 23-years-old Wilson was yet to post a win after almost two years on the WCT circuit.
Stop No. 8 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Portugal played host to pivotal moments in the hunt for the 2012 ASP World Title as well as today’s dramatic culmination between two rising superstars.
Last week’s final was a re-match of the Medina and Wilson’s final bout from France last season, and the pair went blow-for-blow at Supertubos in front of a capacity crowd.
While Medina favoured a more technical approach to the heat, executing a number of progressive manoeuvers, it was Wilson’s barrel sense and combination ability that ultimately tipped the heat in the final moments.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Wilson said. “I lost to Gabriel on the buzzer last year in France and to beat him back again on the buzzer, I don’t even know how to describe the feeling.
“He was trying to hold onto the lead in the end there, he pretty much did what I did in the Final last year in France. He was too busy worrying about me, and that wave came in the dying moments and that was the scorer. I don’t know what to say, I’m just so happy.”
Wilson’s final wave, a multi-section barrel followed by a number of turns, came in at an 8.43 and gave the Australian the edge with no time left on the clock. Both surfers arrived to the shoreline without knowing who had won the Final.
“I felt like I got the score,” Wilson said. “Especially after my other wave that I got a 7 on, but at the same time the crowd was pretty quiet. I think there are a lot of Portuguese supporters out there. I didn’t feel that confident walking up the beach; Wilko (Matt Wilkinson) had my back but he wasn’t 100% sure. Then they just read the score out and I was so happy.”
Prior to Friday’s win, Wilson’s best results for the 2012 season were two fifth placings (Billabong Rio Pro and Volcom Fiji Pro), along with a win over fellow ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) campaigner Miguel Pupo in the 2012 ASP Prime Nike US Open of Surfing.
Although not an ASP WCT event, Huntington’s Nike US Open of Surfing is one of the season’s biggest ASP Prime events, giving Wilson a welcome points boost in the season’s world ranking points.
Victory at last week’s Rip Curl Pro vaults the Coolum surfer from No. 12 to No. 6 on the ASP WCT rankings and puts him 18,050 points behind tour leader and fellow sunny coaster, Joel Parkinson.
Parkinson had to settle for equal third in the Portugal event after beating lethal rookie John John Florence in the quarterfinal, but unable to best an in-form Gabriel Medina in the semi-final.
“My number one goal this year was to win one of these World Championship Tour events,” Wilson said.
“I won Huntington, which was pretty big but it wasn’t a ‘CT so there was definitely a space left in there for me to accomplish. To win here is just unbelievable.”
The WCT now moves to Santa Cruz, California on 1 November for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, before the tour’s final stop is played out at Hawaii’s highly anticipated Billabong Pipe Masters in December.
For tour updates, log onto www.aspworldtour.com.