Julian Wilson on fire in J-Bay Open in South Africa
JULIAN Wilson has returned "back to the scene of the crime" of last year's shark attack and it's clear he's not letting it holding him back.
Wilson got off to a flying start at the J-Bay Open in South Africa last week locking in the highest heat total of round one and the competition so far - an 18.77 out of a possible 20 - allowing him to skip through to round three.
In round three the surf at J-Bay resembled Noosa's First Point and Wilson looked right at home in the small waves.
Despite hitting the rocks and surfing through a blood covered face for half of his heat, Wilson took down 2012 world champion and J-Bay heavyweight Joel Parkinson.
Still sporting his battle wounds Wilson then had a nail-biter of a heat in round four against 2014 world champion Gabriel Medina and aerial specialist Felipe Toledo.
Wilson out-surfed and out-aired the two brazilians to take the win with a wave he caught with less than three minutes to go in the 35 minute heat.
Although it was a close call, Wilson said he had thrived on the challenge.
"It was a fun heat to be able to surf with those guys," he said.
"I don't get many opportunities to surf with Gabriel or Felipe so I was pretty amped."
Wilson said he was "stoked to make some heats" and was so far loving the competition in South Africa.
He said it was all business at the moment and he hadn't let last year's events play on his mind.
"I had no nerves at all I just really enjoyed it," Wilson told World Surf League after getting back in the South African water for the first time.
"It's good to be back - the love I have for J-Bay is what brought me back unquestionably.
"I love the waves here and I love having that blow for blow type of heats where everyone gets their opportunities and get to let their surfing do the talking."
Wilson said he was feeling confident that he could go all the way and get his first win for the season and make up for the interrupted final in 2015.
"Mick (Fanning) was extremely lucky under the circumstances of last year's run in with a great white shark and we can all take strength from his actions in that moment," he said.
"I'm happy to be through to the quarter finals and I really want to keep it going and move through to the end.
"I've got a lot to draw on from here, I've got some good momentum going and hopefully can keep that momentum through to the final."
Yesterday afternoon's competition was called off due to a lack of swell and is scheduled to start again this afternoon at 3.30pm AEST.
Wilson will face off against Brazilian Gabriel Medina in quarter final number three.