Wilson wary but ready to carve up in return to J-Bay
Despite being known for his guts in the face of danger, Julian Wilson admits it's always a "little bit scary" when entering the notorious waters of Jeffreys Bay.
The Sunshine Coast surfer famously swam to help Mick Fanning during a shark attack in the final at the J-Bay Open in 2015 and will return to the South African break this week for what is the sixth stop on the Championship Tour.
It may be three years since the shark attack on Fanning, but Wilson said he remains wary heading into the event.
"It can be a little bit scary obviously with what's in the water but I'm definitely not the first one out there or the last one in that's for sure," he said with a smile.
The world tour has already been affected by shark activity this year, with the Margaret River Pro cancelled in April but Wilson said it was just part of the sport.
"Last year when I was at J-Bay there was a great white cruising through the line-up the heat before mine and they wanted to throw my heat out almost straight after the shark had fled," he said.
"I thought that was a little bit scarier than what happened in Margaret River just because it was in front of your face.
"But, who knows what's going to be thrown at us this year (in South Africa) I think it's a very raw and rugged coastline and there's some big animals in the water but we all sign up for it."
Wilson currently leads the world tour standings and, despite J-Bay's reputation, relished the opportunity to carve-up a high quality swell.
"The wave is so special and I think going over there that's the only thing that really consumes your time is just how precious that wave is," he said.
"I love competing there and I love the wave.
"I've had some good results there and I'm looking forward to going over and getting some good waves."
Wilson's repertoire of flashy tricks could be on show at Corona Open J-Bay this week with the surfer growing ever confident with his shoulder.
He ruptured the AC joint in a mountain bike crash prior to the season but has worked hard to build it back to normal while on tour.
"I feel like my surfing is in a good place, my shoulder is feeling much better and holding up much better for events," he said.
"The stamina is kind of back and it's not fatiguing so quickly so I feel like my surfing hasn't really been affected too much by the shoulder.
"I was a little bit worried about some of the manoeuvres that I used to really enjoy doing, the airs and stuff, and they were a bit off.
"But I think after Bali I feel pretty confident with that stuff again.
"It's definitely not 100 per cent, but it's in a place where I don't have to be thinking about it constantly and worrying about how it's going to hold up under competition and the pressure."
Corona Open J-Bay is scheduled to start on Monday.
Mooloolaba's Keely Andrew is set to surf in the women's Corona Open J-Bay later in the week.