Australian surfer Julian Wilson has won the opening event of the 2018 World Surf League tour with a win at Kirra (Source: WSL/Sloane)
Australian surfer Julian Wilson has opened his 2018 World Surf League account with a win over Central Coast surfer Adrian Buchan on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Wilson, who with wife Ashley announced the birth of their first daughter Olivia last week, surfed through the event hobbled by a shoulder injury after falling off a mountain bike in January.
The event had already been blessed with near-perfect conditions courtesy of ex-Cyclone Linda at the primary venue of Snapper Rocks in the lead-up to the final, but organisers opted for the famed Kirra point in a bid to capitalise on building swell.
Earlier, California surfer Griffin Colapinto claimed a perfect 10-point ride for a lengthy barrel that left commentators aghast.
Wilson scored a 9.93 and 7.50 in the final against Buchan, who countered with a 6.50 and 8.60.
Wilson said, despite surfing at “80 per cent”, the win put him in a good headspace for the year ahead and the next event at Bells Beach.
“It’s the start of the year and I’m happy to have had a better result in Australia than all the events here last year,” he said.
“There’s a massive positive in that so I’ll just go to Bells and chip away again.”
Lakey Peterson and Julian Wilson enjoy the spoils of victory after wins at the 2018 WSL tour-opening event on the Gold Coast. (Source: WSL/Sloane)
Lakey Peterson takes women’s title
The women’s event was equally as blessed with ideal conditions but it was outsiders that provided some big upsets with US surfer Lakey Peterson taking the win over the Sunshine Coast’s Keely Andrew.
Peterson eliminated reigning world champion Tyler Wright in their quarter-final, while Andrew took down Stephanie Gilmore in the quarters.
Australia’s Keely Andrew placed second in the women’s division behind US surfer Lakey Peterson (Source: WSL/Sloane)
Fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons had her campaign cut by Andrew in a low scoring semi-final encounter.
The Bells Beach event window opens on March 28.
The historic event is set to be three-time world champion Mick Fanning’s last as a touring professional after the 36-year-old announced his retirement earlier this year.
Fanning again endeared himself to legions of fans by handing fan Nate Johnson his board after being eliminated in his round-four heat.
Meanwhile, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater has yet to confirm if he will compete at Bells after withdrawing from the Gold Coast event due to continued issues stemming from a broken foot sustained at Jeffreys Bay in 2017.
Slater hinted on Instagram that the foot was healing, but he was favouring a cautious approach to returning to full-time competition.
“Hearing Mick talk about his reasons for retiring at the upcoming Bells event yesterday rang true for me also around going in the direction of doing things that make you uncomfortable,’ Slater posted.
“Competing is a natural environment for us both and it’s the easy route for me. I think it best that I properly rehabilitate the injury and choose to surf wholeheartedly, not from the excitement or stress of a last minute arrival. It’s not very professional or responsible and it won’t allow me to be at my best potential.”