World title contender looks better than ever: ex-coach
SURFING: A former coach of Julian Wilson believes the world No.3 is in the form of his life, leading into the pointy end of the season.
Sunshine Coast-based Graham Endersby applauded the 29-year-old for his triumph at the Quiksilver Pro France on Saturday, which reignited his claims for the Championship Tour title.
"I don't think I've seen anyone been so consistent and fluent in their aerial attempts. It was a display for the ages." he said.
"Under pressure in every round, he made really good decisions."
Wilson beat compatriot Ryan Callinan 15.24 to 14.23 in the final after toppling ratings leader Gabriel Medina with a perfect 10 in the semi-finals.
"He's surfing the best I've ever seen him surf, that's for sure," Endersby said.
Endersby, who mentored Wilson as a youngster, caught up with him at a recent grommets coaching session at Peregian Beach.
It was there he sensed a fierce determination from the Coolum Beach product.
"When he's here (on the Coast) we do it (the coaching) together and then he'll go out for a surf," he said.
"And I was absolutely blown away by his small wave act. He was just so coiled and looking so sharp and hungry in less than ideal conditions. I thought he's definitely got the fire in the belly."
There are two events remaining on the 11-stop world tour and Endersby expects Wilson to give the world title a shake.
His best season-ending standing in seven years is third place, last year.
"He's more than a chance," Endersby said.
"He's won at Portugal and at Pipe before so he's got the experience there.
"It's just a matter of doing what he did through France."
Wilson won the first event of the season at the Gold Coast in March despite having a serious shoulder injury.
"If anyone knew the gravity of that injury at the start of the year ... how he won that first event was miraculous but it set him up for a really good year and now he's fitter, his arm's not giving him as much grief."
Wilson was delighted to win in Hossegor.
"There's just so much I can be thankful for. I had to bring my A-game to beat Ryan in the final," he told World Surf League.
"I've lost my first final here against Medina (in 2011) and I think I hold a grudge since then and this year finally it happened."
Wilson dedicated the win to French surfing identity Pierre Agnes, the chief executive of Boardriders, who disappeared on a fishing trip in January.
"He was such a beautiful human being. Thank you, Pierre. All the surfers love you."
"The moment of silence before the final shook me. Everything he's done for surfing here in France and I've always dreamt of winning this event."
Callinan experienced his best result on tour and he lauded Wilson.
"I couldn't have asked for anything better (than sharing a final with Wilson), even finishing second to him. I know he's going for something special and that was a big event for him. We've grown to be really good friends and I was happy to share that special moment with him."
The event victory was Wilson's fifth on tour.