You may remember that Julian Wilson took the year off in 2009. He read some books, backpacked through Europe, and tried to find himself.
Not really. Actually, the Australian ripper made a dope feature film, surfed around the world and rested up some injuries. But he wasn't out there jumping at every horn, wearing a jersey, and battling for waves. This year has been the opposite of 2009 -- powering through both the World Tour and the Prime events. Just last month, he won the Quik Pro Portugal. In the last year, he's done 19 contests.
That's the way it is these days. Even heralded future champions like Wilson have to stay busy at all levels of pro surfing to stay on the tour. They have to be able to adapt. Wilson showed he's adept at adapting today at the Mr. Price Pro Ballito Prime.
Wilson is known as an aerial prodigy. But when conditions changed suddenly, he was able to switch to top-to-bottom surfing and solid turns (14.07 total) to beat out Stuart Kennedy, Tim Boal, and Mitch Coleborn.
"The wind was perfect for airs in the heat before mine, but conditions changed in my heat, so I had to change my strategy," Wilson said, "Mitch and Stuart are really good surfers so I wanted to go out there and find the best waves. I was really nervous for some reason, so it was good to wash the nerves out."
The event saw the bottom half of round one completed in solid swell, although the wind was on it. Not quite the cylindrical perfection of yesterday. The top scoring heat of the day went to Gabriel Medina, one of the brightest shining of the new Brazilian stars. He combined tube riding and turns to earn a heat total of 16.43.
Also putting forth strong performances today were Australians Adam Robertson and Davey Cathels, Portugal's Tiago Pires, and Hawaiian, John John Florence.
It was a rough day for the World Tour surfers, as stalwarts Adrian Buchan, Jadson Andre, and Dusty Payne were eliminated. They will probably hang around South Africa until the Billabong Pro at J-Bay next week. Nat Young, Dylan Graves, and Nathaniel Curran were stymied as well.
The event will likely resume tomorrow, with the start of round two. The recent cold front that dipped through is expected to bolster the swell. Jordy Smith, Cory Lopez, Kiron Jabour, and Austin Ware will do battle in heat six.
2011 Mr. Price Pro Ballito Round of 96 Results:
Heat 13: Adam Robertson (AUS) 13.66; Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) 12.67; Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.87; Kai Barger (HAW) 9.96
Heat 14: Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 12.13; Alain Riou (PYF) 11.77; Tanner Gudauskas (HAW) 10.94; Tom Whittaker (AUS) 9.27
Heat 15: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.07; Stu Kennedy (AUS) 12.77; Tim Boal (FRA) 11.14; Mitchell Coleborn (AUS) 8.10
Heat 16: Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.17; Brendon Gibbens (RSA)10.84; Marc Lacomare (FRA) 6.67; Jadson Andre (BRA) 3.97
Heat 17: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.43; Heath Joske (AUS) 16.43; Jack Freestone (AUS) 11.67; Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 6.76
Heat 18: Joan Duru (FRA) 13.23;Richard Christie (NZL) 12.96;Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.67; Tomas Hermes (BRA) 9.03
Heat 19: William Cardosa (BRA) 12.76; Jano Belo (BRA) 10.34; Richard Santos (BRA) 6.50; Travis Logie (ZAF)6.30
Heat 20: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.77; David Van Zyl (ZAF) 10.43; Steven Sawyer (Z AF) 8.10; Nathaniel Curran (USA) 3.47
Heat 21: Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.94; Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 10.07; Klee Strachan (ZAF) 10.00; Dylan Graves (PRI) 4.13
Heat 22: John John Florence (HAW) 14.77; Felix Messias (BRA) 10.13; Alejo Muniz (BRA) 9.84; Pedro Henrique (BRA) 6.90
Heat 23: Davey Cathels (AUS) 16.16; Kai Otton (AUS) 15.50; Yadin Nicol (AUS) 4.70; Jean De Silva (BRA) 2.26
Heat 24: Adrian Toyon (REU) 13.26; Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.66; Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 9.40; Nat Young (USA) 8.77