Julian Wilson Talks Expectation, Surf Superstitions And Kelly Slater

Julian Wilson is currently hovering just outside the ASP rankings Top 10 after a quarter finals knock out at this week’s Billabong Pro Tahiti (which was ultimately taken out by his Aussie countryman, Adrian Buchan). Next month Julian will head to California’s Trestles Beach where he’ll compete in the Hurley Pro, but first he’ll be hitting TV screens on Focus, a documentary series presented by Fox Sports and Red Bull Media House offering an intimate insight into the lives of 12 of the world’s top athletes. Tonight’s episode deals with the theme of Expectations – something Julian Wilson’s been dealing with ever since he was a promising grom. We grabbed J-Dub for a few minutes this week to talk about his own expectations of his performance, surfing superstitions, and the sport’s unstoppable elder statesman, Kelly Slater.

Hey Julian, how are you finding this year’s Tour so far? I love the tour. How could you not? I’m learning lessons and having fun. Yeah, I’ve had a few disappointing results but also some satisfying results and some memorable moments. Haven’t racked up a win yet but feeling good about the back end of the year!

Finding success early, being described as a “child prodigy” and being put in the spotlight at such a young age must have had a profound effect on you growing up. What was your support system like then, and what is it like now? Having those opportunities as a grom only ever helped me and I’m so grateful for them. It seemed like I was sponsored from the time I was in nappies and then started doing really cool shit by the time I was 10. My family could not be better and I’ve had the greatest support, grew up being very “normal” and grounded. I’d like to continue that mindset forever. Family first.

The theme of your episode of ‘Focus’ is “expectations”. Is it harder to meet your own expectations, or the expectations of others? Was having such a huge reputation before you even turned pro a positive or negative thing for your confidence? Of course it’s the expectations I put on myself that I care most about and strive to achieve. Having a reputation before I got on tour was both a help and hindrance and it definitely took me a few events to get in the groove, actually about half the first year!

Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals you go through before competing? Not superstitious but I do like to stick to a routine. Actually, I start each event with a fresh block of wax and don’t use another one until its over so yeah, I’m a little superstitious!

How important is mental toughness in competitions? It’s equally as important as physical toughness and what separates the top 10 on tour from the rest. Executing under pressure is simply not possible if you aren’t clear between the ears and ready to fire without distraction.

Kelly Slater continues to be a freak of nature. What’s it like to have such a brilliant veteran still surfing on tour? There must be a lot of mixed emotions toward him from other surfers… He’s still surfing at his best so it’s great to have him on tour. Is he ever going to retire?! To be honest I think it’s one of those instances where most guys on tour are saying “damn it, hurry up and leave” but then when he’s gone we will miss him. I’ll be proud to say I was around when the greatest man to ever surf was creating unbreakable records.

Does surfing ever feel like a “job” to you? Yes, it does sometimes.

Travel, parties, sponsorship deals – there’s plenty of pretty awesome distractions that come with being a pro surfer. How do you retain focus? When there are all those distractions around me I like to step back and focus on the bigger picture… the big picture is what I think about.

What are your 3 favourite spots to surf? Indonesia, South Africa and home.

If you weren’t a professional surfer, what do you think you’d be doing? Racing dirt bikes, playing golf, skate boarding, being a fireman.. Haha – any of the above!

What’s next for you after the ASP Tour wraps up? Family time.

FOCUS airs on Wednesdays 8:30PM AEST on FOX SPORTS 1HD and FOX SPORTS 1. Tonight Julian stars in an episode titled Expectations alongside professional American golfer Lexi Thompson. Watch the trailer now and tune in tonight.