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Coasting : Issue 8 Feb 2010
MATT Wilkinson lives and breathes competitive surfing. Even when he's not competing, he can't get enough. So Coasting wasn't surprised to find Wilkinson enjoying some recent time off on the beach at North Narrabeen watching the 2010 World Junior Championships. But what's not to like about the pro surfing lifestyle? "You travel around the world with your best friends doing the thing that you love and making money doing it," Wilkinson said of his dream career. A former under-16 world champion, Wilkinson earned a place on the World Championship Tour, surfing's ultimate stage, by finishing 11th on the second-tier World Qualifying Series last year. The top 15 WQS surfers gain promotion each year. "My life goal has pretty much been to qualify for the CT," Wilkinson said. "My next goal is to win a world title, but this is probably the main goal for my whole life, to get there [on the WCT] first, so I'm pretty stoked." When the 2010 WCT starts on the Gold Coast on February 27, he'll find himself competing against his childhood heroes, such as American Kelly Slater, the nine-time world champion and surfing's equivalent to Superman, and Australia's twice reigning world title-holder Mick Fanning. The dynamic goofy-footer admitted the prospect was daunting. "When I was 10 years old I was watching surf videos of Kelly being the world champ, and now I'm getting on to the CT and he's still right at the top, which is pretty crazy," he said. "And Mick Fanning has been probably my favourite surfer since I was 12 years old, and now he's at his prime, winning world titles, and I've got to compete against all the guys who have always been my heroes." But the former Kincumber High School student said his WQS experience had prepared him for the challenge. "Coming in the top 15 of that gives you the confidence that you are one of the best surfers in the world," he said. ''I guess you just have to keep that in your mind when you are surfing against guys who you are almost star-struck by. It's going to be interesting but I'm sure I'll figure it out." Wilkinson was also looking forward to reconnecting with fellow Central Coast WCT surfers, Avoca's Adrian Buchan, 27, and Drew Courtney, 31, of Umina. "I love surfing with 'Ace' [Buchan], who's been the local guy that I've looked up to ever since I was little," Wilkinson said. "He was winning the juniors when I was doing the grommet comps, and then he was doing good on the QS when I was in the juniors, and now he's doing good on the CT and I've arrived there, so it's pretty exciting to surf with him. "Also, Drew... I've travelled a little bit with him and [another Umina surfer] Glenn Hall, and done the QS. It's pretty awesome to see him on there because he made it last year after a while on the QS. It's great to see that he's stayed up after the first year and I'm sure he'll be back and do a lot better this year." Born in Penrith, Wilkinson moved to Copacabana with his family when he was seven and immediately hit the waves, body-boarding for a year before moving on to a surfboard. Renowned for explosive aerial manoeuvres, Wilkinson is not expecting to become world champion in his first year. Surviving a new ratings system, under which the bottom 13 surfers will be eliminated from the WCT after five events, will be his first goal, followed by winning rookie of the year. "If I get a few good results at the start of the year my goals might change. I'd love to end up in the top three or four, but I'll just see how it's going," he said. COASTING COVER STORY AS a newly qualified competitor on surfing's elite World Championship Tour, Copacabana's Matt Wilkinson, 21, literally has the world at his feet. making waves By ADAM COUZENS central coast • new south wales YOUNG GUN: Wilkinson is renowned for his explosive manoeuvres. Picture by Rip Curl/Lawrence. TOP PERFORMER: Wilkinson celebrates winning the Central Coast Pro at Soldiers Beach in 2006. Picture by Richard Gosling. Picture by Rip Curl/Shorty.
Issue 7 Jan 2010
Issue 9 Mar 2010