Wave of support for Wilson as world title chase continues
SURFING: Former professional surfer Gary 'Kong' Elkerton is hopeful Julian Wilson can be the man to finally "crack the ice" and bring a world crown to the region.
Sunshine Coast talents have come close in the past with Elkerton a three-time tour runner-up himself.
Wilson is currently in action at Pipeline in Hawaii and had a good start on his title quest, winning his opening heat.
Although the 30-year-old's chances also rely on other surfers' results, mainly Gabriel Medina's performance, Elkerton had his fingers crossed that Wilson's name would be etched into the history books.
"We all hope that someone from the Coast can bring a world title here," Elkerton said. "I came so close for so many years and I'd love to see Julian crack the ice and do that for the Sunshine Coast.
"The whole of the Sunshine Coast is behind him and sending the good vibes, so come on Jules we want you to bring it home buddy."
The 30-year-old won his opening round heat, scoring 8.07 in difficult conditions, to beat Brazil's Tomas Hermes (6.40) and Hawaii's Seth Moniz (4.57).
His top wave was off a four-manoeuvre combination at Backdoor - Pipeline's right-handed wave - for a 5.57.
It afforded him direct passage into round three.
"It feels pretty good to get through a heat that's tricky like that," he told World Surf League.
"It doesn't get much more challenging at Pipe."
Wilson is second in the rankings after 10 of 11 events, trailing Medina in the standings.
Another Brazilian, Filipe Toledo, can also win the world title.
"I feel like the three of us that are in contention all need a big result (at Pipeline) to clinch it, so I feel like we're all in the same boat," Wilson said.
There are plenty of people cheering him on, beachside and back in his home country.
"The support's been unreal. My family is here and I feel like I'm doing it for Australia in a way, and the support's been incredible from home."
Medina also progressed direct to round three, however, Toledo suffered a potentially serious setback in his campaign after being defeated by Matt Wilkinson.
Joel Parkinson, a former Caloundra grommet, won a world title in 2012 after moving to the Gold Coast.
Wilson recently said he strived to put a flag in the sand for the Sunshine Coast on the world surfing stage.
"To be living here, to be representing the Sunshine Coast that I'm so proud of, that's huge for me," he told the Daily last month.
"If I can put that flag in the sand here, that would be pretty special."
The men's world title scenarios at the Billabong Pipe Masters:
- If Gabriel Medina finishes 1st or 2nd at the Billabong Pipe Masters, he wins the World Title;
- If Gabriel Medina finishes 3rd at the Billabong Pipe Masters, Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo will need to finish 1st;
- If Gabriel Medina finishes 5th-25th, Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo will need a 2nd or 1st at Pipe.
Surfing is set to resume on Saturday.