HIGH FLYING: Julian Wilson, pictured at the 2018 Quiksilver Pro France, was the second best surfer in the world last year.
HIGH FLYING: Julian Wilson, pictured at the 2018 Quiksilver Pro France, was the second best surfer in the world last year. DAMIEN POULLENOT

Wilson trending in the right direction

SURFING: A maiden world surfing title remains Sunshine Coast's Julian Wilson's obsession despite this season effectively doubling as a cut-throat qualifying campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Wilson finished second behind Brazilian Gabriel Medina last season, falling just short of becoming the nation's first male champion since Mick Fanning won his third and final title in 2013. The 30-year-old will return to the Gold Coast in early April to defend his home Quicksilver Pro crown, the starting point of another nine-month marathon to scale the World Surf League summit.

"It's always good to get a fast start,” Wilson said. "But it's proven not to mean everything. The world title has been won in the season half of the year over the last six seasons.”

They'll be a little extra on the line this WSL campaign, with the two highest-ranked top-10 men's tour finishers from each nation booking a direct ticket to the inaugural Olympic surfing event in Tokyo.

But he isn't feeling the pressure of attempting to tick two boxes at once in 2019.

"My lifelong dream has been to win a world title,” Wilson said. "That's going to be my main focus. If I can take care of that and give myself another good crack at it, the qualification for the Olympics will take care of itself.”

With third and runner-up placings under his belt from 2017 and 2018, Wilson insists he's developed a formula capable of going one better this year and he plans to stick with it.

"I'm trending in the right direction,” he said. "I've had some really good years on tour now and been very close to achieving the dream. I'm not looking to change a lot; just looking to change my result.'

Wilson was one of just five Australian men to automatically requalify for the 2019 WSL season - down from seven - along with Wade Carmichael, Adrian Buchan and Wright brothers Owen and Mikey.

But he remains upbeat about the nation's next generation and their chances of snapping a five-year streak of Brazilian and Hawaiian champions.

"I don't think Australia's ever had a stranglehold on the men's title ... but we're probably still the second strongest country on tour,” Wilson said. "There's definitely some tenacious competitors that have come from Australia, with Mick (Fanning) and Joel (Parkinson) doing so well.

"They've left a great example and some big shoes to fill.”