SURFING: He was suddenly pitched into the spotlight with strong back-to-back results on the World Championship Tour and a well documented shark incident but Coolum Beach's Julian Wilson says he's not fazed by the intense focus of the surfing world.
The 26-year-old claimed runner-up results in Brazil and in South Africa to force his way to third in the race for the world title, midway through the season.
He was also nominated for a bravery award after attempting to help compatriot Mick Fanning in the final at Jeffrey's Bay, which was abandoned after the latter was confronted by a white pointer.
So plenty of eyes are on Wilson at Tahiti this week.
But the natural footer said the unprecedented attention and the possibility of a maiden world crown were not playing on his mind.
"No, not at all. I just really want to put a full year together."
"I don't feel like I've done that. I had a good start (this year) and then had some losses and I was happy that I could bounce back (in Brazil and South Africa) so (now) I just look forward to each event and try and make them consistent, keep making heats and keep putting on good performances and keep getting opportunities to surf against the best guys."
Wilson certainly showed poise at the famed break of Teahupo'o at Tahiti yesterday, when he won his opening-round heat. In fluctuating conditions, he snared an 8.33-point wave to amass a total of 10.66, over Sebastian Zietz (9.00) and Garrett Parkes (1.30)
"The heat before there was a few opportunities and the start of my heat had a couple of more opportunities and then the wind clocked more south ...and there weren't too many chances," he said.
"I was sitting out there with Garrett at the end and he was like 'I'm so embarrassed' and I was like 'mate, you can't be embarrassed if you don't get an opportunity."
In other round one heat results, Fanning beat Adam Melling and Taumata Puhetini in his first competitive surf since the J-Bay Open.
"It was great to get back in the singlet and focus on surfing again," Fanning said. "There's been so much hype about the incident in J-Bay and so much media attention and I just want to move on."
Ratings leader Adriano De Souza finished second in his heat to be pitched into a do-or-die round two clash.
Competition was set to resume overnight.
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