Our Julian's home: Why he paddled to Fanning in shark attack
JULIAN Wilson has revealed the secret to the mental toughness that saw him paddle to help fellow competitor Mick Fanning three weeks ago while he was fighting off a great white shark.
Yesterday, after a session in barely two-foot waves at his Coolum home break, Julian revealed he has had to head bush for the adrenalin rush he needs to prepare himself for the world tour's most awesomely powerful wave at Teahupoo (Chopes) in Tahiti this month.
Riding dirt bikes is something he's done since he was an 11 year-old.
When he was 16 and riding without a helmet he knocked himself out in a crash. The experience terrified him and he didn't ride again for a year.
Now he has a KTM 350 at hand to head bush, suitably protected, whenever the surf goes flat.
"One hundred per cent, riding bikes helps get me tougher to face waves like Chopes. I've done that my whole career so far as well as skateboarding.
"Being in those situations where you are not super comfortable riding on the edge ... when I come back to the Coast there is nowhere else to find that feeling.
"I find quite a bit of it on the bike."
Three years ago during his first full tour season, Wilson was in Tahiti when a gigantic swell, now known as Code Red, caused officials to postpone the event.
He spent most of the day in the channel watching in awe.
Every other guy on tour was out there watching as well. Only Wilson and one other tour surfer caught a wave.
Good mate Laurie Towner came over with a jet ski and urged him to have a crack.
"Psychologically getting a wave was a confidence booster."
How does that heart-in-the-mouth drop on his backhand, facing away from the wave face, compare with last month's shark experience?
"I didn't cry after the Chopes wave," Julian laughed.
"Both are moments I'll remember forever."
Wilson is arguably now one of the most recognisable professional athletes on the planet courtesy of a great white shark that interrupted the World Surf League tour event final showdown with three-time world champion Mick Fanning in South Africa three weeks ago.
It delivered the adrenalin junkie an overload of emotion that reduced him to tears as he faced interviews straight out of the water.
Those tears for him were, he said yesterday, as much about a sense of relief as anything.
"There was so much adrenalin; we were celebrating we got away with it,'' Wilson said.
"It was quite emotional that Mick got through that. I've just been able to come home. If the situation was the other way I'd be shattered. I didn't feel the shark and wasn't confronted by it.
"I'm just getting on with it. I'm here for Mick if he needs me."