Julian Wilson suffers world surf title setback
IT WAS the event Julian Wilson hoped would springboard him back into the lead in the chase for the world surfing crown, but instead it could haunt him for the rest of the season.
The Australian's quest for a maiden world crown took a big hit with his round two exit at the Tahiti Pro at Teahupo'o at the hands of a local wildcard on Monday.
Beaten in round one by compatriot and soon to be retired former world champion Joel Parkinson, Wilson was bidding to defend the Tahiti Pro title he won a year ago.
But Wilson, who managed to hunt down just a single wave, was beaten by Tikanui Smith 7.67 to 5.83.
\While he started the event as the world No.2, and within striking distance of Brazilian rankings leader Felipe Toledo, Wilson is likely to fall down the rankings following his 25th placing.
In contrast, Toledo, who arrived in Tahiti early to acclimatise to the conditions, looked to be in strong form, racking up the highest heat total of the day in his 15.50 round one win.
"It's been helpful coming to Tahiti early to familiarise myself with the reef and surf the swells ahead of the event,'' Toledo said.
Parkinson was also at ease in the 1.5-2m surf.
"Tahiti has been a second home for me for many years," Parkinson said. "Everyone has been so supportive of me since I announced it's my last season.
"Even Julian (Wilson) was giving me a hoot during one of my rides.''
Also excelling in round one were Australian heat winners Wade Carmichael, Adrian Buchan and Connor O'Leary.