He is the man most likely, and this is his time. Julian Wilson wants to be Australia’s next world surfing champion.
The prodigiously talented Red Bull athlete is in Manly for the Australian Open of Surfing ahead of the Championship Tour’s opening event of the year, the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks.
There is little doubting his goal for 2017. And there is none of the antiquated stereotype of the carefree surfer riding on the wind when he talks about it.
“I am past just ‘taking it as it comes’, he said, staring at the surf, watching fellow competitors scratch around in bumpy conditions at Manly, his focus evident.
“I feel like I have had some really good years on tour and I have learnt a lot and I just really want to go for that world title now.
“It is really what motivates me, I know it is achievable and I just want to apply myself as much as possible to get that goal.”
Wilson was earmarked for a world title at a young age on the Sunshine Coast.
He won a junior world title in 2006 and as soon as he qualified for the World Tour, battling with seasoned veterans in 2011 the then 22-year-old won Rookie of the Year honours and finished in the top-ten.
He has had six top-ten finishes in his seven years on tour and is regarded at every stop on tour as a threat and a contender.
With Mick Fanning still up in the air about his competitive future, Joel Parkinson slowing down, Matt Wilkinson’s inconsistency and the return from injuries for Australia’s other stars Owen Wright and Bede Durbidge it seems Wilson is the best placed Aussie to take the crown.
The 28-year-old can feel it as well. He knows it’s in his grasp.
“I feel like for myself (the world title) is more achievable than ever,” he said.
“That’s the main thing, if I believe in it and I can see it happening, that’s when you get closer to it and I have that feeling now more than ever.”
He’s close too. Last year he made a final, two semis and three quarters. But there has been a small piece missing, denying him Championship Tour wins.
“It’s very much about consistency. I think I have had five finals in the last two years without a win,” he said.
“Obviously getting a win is a great goal to have but it is all about that consistency. I feel like I am comfortable enough at all the stops on the tour to be making heats and beating those guys and giving myself a really good opportunity of getting that No.1 goal.”
As far as who is going to provide the sternest opposition to Wilson reaching his goal, the surfer plays as good a straight bat as any footballer getting asked the same question.
“It’s always pretty wide open to be honest,” he said.
“Going into the first event I focus very much on myself and make sure I am feeling good and my boards are feeling good. That is all I can control.”
Not even entertaining thoughts of 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, who has indicated he is fully committed to one more tilt at a twelfth title?
“Honestly, I don’t really think about it. I appreciate him being at events and appreciate his desire to be there, you can’t not respect that,” he said.
“It’s always a pleasure to surf against him when you get the opportunity and I think maybe it could be somewhat of a celebration year of an incredible career.”
One thing about ‘King Kelly’ Wilson has thought about is his famed wave pool.
The World Surf League has bought the rights to Slater’s incredible wave pool and Wilson is well and truly open to the idea of it becoming part of the tour.
“Obviously the whole world has seen the quality of that wave, it would be a great addition to the tour,” he said.
“WSL has gone and bought the rights from Kelly so they are looking at it and planning for it and I would love to compete on a platform that was consistent. You could put rails in there and do rail slides and airs. There is so much exciting stuff that could be done there.”
But that is a ways off yet. Right now he is still staring straight out at the mushy surf of Manly.
Sloppy beach breaks, different to the perfection he is used to surfing on the tour.
An opportunity nonetheless.
“I’m definitely not here just for a warm up,” he said.
“It’s about embracing the opportunity, taking it seriously and applying myself the same way as any World Tour event.
“I want to get myself up and running.”
It’s hard not to see Wilson making that final lunge for the prize he so covets this year.