By Phil Jarratt
2018 World Surf League #2 Julian Wilson will kick-start his 2019 championship campaign by becoming the Noosa World Surfing Reserve’s latest ambassador, it was announced this week.
Julian, who learnt to surf on Noosa’s points and the beach-breaks between Sunshine and Coolum, will join ambassadors Jordan Mercer and Josh Constable as the “Triple J Team”, representing the Noosa Reserve wherever they compete around the world. The three home-grown champions of the surf have been the best advertisements for Noosa’s surfing lifestyle for more than a decade, and will be a huge plus for the World Surfing Reserve as it heads towards its dedication in March 2020.
Taking a break from pre-season training, Julian said: “I grew up surfing at Noosa with my family, and spent thousands of hours enjoying the beaches and point-breaks along the headland. I am so happy to hear that it’s been recognized as a World Surfing Reserve and protected so that my children can have that same experience, and so can their kids after that! I’ve travelled the world and am yet to find a more beautiful place to be than on the beach and in the ocean at Noosa.”
The 30-year-old tour veteran (since 2011, when he won Rookie of the Year) got his competitive start in club meets with the Noosa Malibu Club, then was unstoppable in the boys’ division at the Noosa Festival of Surfing, before changing to shortboards and winning a world junior title as a teenager. Although it’s now a decade since Julian last competed at the Noosa Festival (winning the Family Challenge with dad Mick in 2009), he still enjoys a longboard wave on the points whenever he’s home. And the surfing Wilson clan, including mum Nola and older brothers Bart and Seb, remain a vital part of the history of the event and of surfing in Noosa.
Since becoming a full-time World Championship Tour surfer, Julian has racked up five event wins, including the coveted Pipeline Masters and Hawaiian Triple Crown, and has frequently threatened to but has not yet delivered a WSL world title. In 2018 he achieved the highest ranking (#2) of his career, and took the world title fight into the final rounds at Pipeline before being pipped by his fiercest rival, rampaging Brazilian Gabriel Medina.
Moving into 2019, Julian is regarded as the greatest threat to the so-called Brazilian Storm. But beyond contest results, Julian is widely regarded as one of the best all-round surfers in the world, capable of charging in surf ranging from two feet to twenty feet, just as at home deep in the barrel, carving on the face or soaring far above it. A ferocious competitor in the water, he is humble and courteous out of it, liked and respected by his peers, even as he crushes them heat after heat.
A true insight into the strength of Julian’s character came in 2015, when his friend and multiple world champion Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white shark during the final of the Billabong Pro J-Bay in South Africa. As Fanning struggled, Julian didn’t hesitate to paddle at full steam towards the incident and a friend in trouble, without thought for the consequences.
The same caring spirit has been in evidence since mum Nola’s battle with breast cancer. Julian now wears pink shorts and rides a pink board while raising money and awareness for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
At Noosa World Surfing Reserve, Julian joins a great team. Only recently recovered from a serious foot injury that kept her out of competition in 2018, former world champion ironwoman and paddler Jordan Mercer, 25, has her heart set on a 2019 comeback that will hopefully see her take out the Molokai Ocean Ski Race (after coming third on debut) in May, grab her seventh Molokai to Oahu world paddle championships race in July, before finishing the year with wins in the prone and stand up world paddle titles. Phew! And wherever she goes, Jordie flies the Noosa flag.
Meanwhile ambassador Josh Constable, now 38, is back in fine form after competing with distinction at the WSL World Longboard Titles in Taiwan late last year, and the 2006 world longboard champion is expected to make a bold showing at the WSL Noosa Open at the Noosa Festival of Surfing next month. Another product of the Noosa points, Josh gets better with age.
As Noosa World Surfing Reserve president, I couldn’t be more stoked to have Julian join our team of ambassadors. Fellow committee members Di Cuddihy, Libby Winter, Michael Court and I have watched him grow from boy to man, grommet to champion, and we know he’ll do us and Noosa proud. And all of us on the NWSR committee wish him every success on the 2019 world tour. Bring home the bacon, Jules!