The Weekly Wednesday Wavelength Q and A with Julian Wilson

Julian Wilson, and new clobber. Photo Rivvia Projects

Short questions and big answers from the key players in the surf world. 

Julian Wilson spent a decade on the Championship Tour (CT) from 2011 until his retirement last year. In that time he claimed five CT victories, including a Pipe Masters victory in 2014, and two big wins on the Gold Coast and in France in 2018.

The Australian heartthrob was known for his electric blend of aerial maneuvers and razor-sharp moves and is regarded as one of the best surfers never to win a World Title. Since retiring from Tour, he started his clothing brand called Rivvia Projects. He lives with his wife and two children in Newcastle, Australia. Wavelength caught up with the 33-year-old to ask some short questions, that needed big answers.

WL: When were you happiest?

JW: My wedding day was the happiest day of my life. It was held on an old cattle station 15 minutes from Coolum beach where I grew up. It’s probably the one time you invite all the people that matter the most to you and your partner to celebrate a joyous thing. It was just an epic occasion. 

WL: What is the most scared you’ve been in the ocean?

JW: Without a doubt, it was the Code Red swell in Tahiti in 2011. I sat in the channel on my board for five and half hours, with a hangover, and was terrified the whole time. It was my first year on tour. I thought I watched Nathan Fletcher and Bruce Irons die in front of me. I watched Maya Gabeira cop six, 20-foot waves on the head when she was unconscious. She came up bleeding from the ears, looking like a ghost. On Nathan Fletcher’s wave, I thought I was going to die as all the boats almost got cleaned up in front of me. It was the scariest day in the ocean I’ve had by a country mile. 

WL: What was your most embarrassing moment?

JW: The most embarrassed I’ve been was in primary school in year six. Just after lunch, I was excused from class to go to the toilet. Just as I was about to step back in, a big crow shat on my head. I just grabbed my bag and ran straight home. I just couldn’t handle it. 

Who is the funniest person you know? 

The funniest person I know is Matt Wilkinson. He’s probably the most consistently funny bloke I’ve ever hung with.

WL: Who is the tightest?

JW: The tightest person would be Kai Otton. He owned it though. He wore saving money as a badge of honour but by God he was tight.

WL: Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

JW: The most expensive thing I’ve bought would be a car. I’ve burned through a few cars in my short life. 

WL: What is your most treasured possession?

JW: My most treasured possession is my health. Boring answer, but it’s true. 

WL: What has been your closest brush with the law?

JW: My closest brush with the law was when I was 16. I was at a house party, but I’d gone out to the bush to take a leak. When I came back the police had turned up to stop the party and I was targeted. I think the cop knew who I was and wanted to make an example of me. I got a public nuisance ticket, and then mum drove me down a few days later and I got a serving off the police. I think mum teed up the extra follow-up taking too. But it set me up. The experience rattled me and I’ve never been in trouble with the law since.  

WL: I’m going to give you Mick Fanning, Ryan Callinan, and Bede Durbidge. You have to choose one as a best man, one for a two-week holiday, and one to punch in the face. 

JW: I’ll go Mick for best man, take Ryan on the holiday and I’ll punch Bede because he’s that much of a nice human and he’s the only one that would cop it. 

Julian and Mick, after Mick had been attacked by a shark during the Final of the J-Bay Open in 2018. Photo WSL

WL: What keeps you awake at night?

JW: I have a 4-year-old and a two-year-old so that’s an obvious answer, but apart from that, it’s usually a good swell forecast. No matter if the forecast looks the same, the waves are always going to be different. Some swell shows up, some don’t, but the anticipation still keeps me up.