We caught up with Wilko after his Fiji Pro win, to talk us through it.
Rip Curl: Hey Wilko, how are you?
Matt Wilkinson: I’m great! Just driving to the airport with Owen right now, actually. We’re heading home.
RC: Oh hey Owen! [Owen yells hello in the background]
MW: So, you wanted to talk about that session at Bells, yeah? That was such an epic few hours.
RC: It looked like it! From what we can remember, the competition was called off at Bells, and then, when you looked at the surf, it was “off its face”… or at least that’s what you yelled as you were running down the stairs.
MW: Yes! That’s a perfect description, haha. It was actually kind of weird though… the comp was moved to Winki because we thought the swell was dropping off – but just as they moved it and everyone started getting ready to head over there, the swell just pulsed. It ended up being a super uncrowded session, even though the entire surfing world was there. It was a perfect size for the Bowl, completely dead wind, and it was just a pretty strange session to have – everyone in town, and nobody out. It was a fun little session – the few of us in the lineup taking turns, getting six foot Bells Bowl with no wind!
"I went straight into this big old scary section and I almost slid out, then almost nose dived, and then..." - Matt Wilkinson
RC: Was it the best Bells you’ve ever seen?
MW: You know, I think it must have been up there. I’ve seen it bigger in previous years when the comp has been on, but it was as clean and as perfectly shaped as I’ve ever seen it. At Bells you’re always usually asking for a different tide or for the wind to be a bit lighter, but that session was perfect – there wasn’t anything you would have asked to change.
RC: Are there any particular waves you remember?
MW: I remember a couple of waves – but there was this one on the inside where I was coming up and I was later than I thought. I went straight into this big old scary section and I almost slid out, then almost nose dived, and then I just don’t know. All sorts of shit was going on. I was on my tippy toes just trying to survive, and then then I didn’t die, I thought… Well, that was either the worst turn I’ve ever seen, or that might have looked awesome! It was pretty fun. It ended up looking pretty cool on the footage.
(Note: This is the wave you’re watching here)
RC: Since you won Bells, do you feel your relationship has changed with the wave?
MW: I guess so, but as long as Bells has a fair bit of swell I’ve always liked it. It’s kind of different on your backhand – it starts off and you’re going really fast, then it changes speed, then it has this chunky inside section. I’ve always liked those difference paces. But getting a win out there definitely gave me a little extra affinity for it. Actually, looking at my little bell at home, sometimes it makes me love it.
RC: Do you ever just… ring it?
MW: Yeah, duh. It’s great.
RC: And uh, you’re currently in the car with Owen. You went to the Maldives with him just before Fiji and absolutely scored – how good of a training ground was that!?
MW: That was a pretty epic trip – just a week of getting uncrowded waves that were so, so perfect. That’s pretty rare these days. There aren’t many spots left in the world where you can go get waves like that with not many people. But Owen and I practiced a lot out there, and I’d watch Ow go really hard on one, and I’d then either try to repeat what he did or go harder on it. That’s a pretty good warm-up for the going left part of the tour, and I guess it paid off!
RC: It sure did, and we sure love it when you go left!
MW: Yeah, me too. Owen and I had a lot of conversations about that – how we never get to show people what we can do going left. But I guess Fiji, when it’s not too big of a barrel, is pretty perfect for turns and you can go a bit nuts. But other than that opportunity we just get made to do backhand rios on Tour – and boy oh boy, do we do them!
RC: Yeah, you’re going to be doing a fair bit of that in a few weeks in South Africa!
MW: Yup, I am, but I’m pretty excited about that one. JBay is so awesome – it’s easily one of my favourite places in the world. I’m going over early just to get some extra time with her.
RC: And until then, you’re at home in Byron?
MW: Yeah, I’m just going to be hanging and surfing at home. I might go to the Central Coast and say hi to my family at some stage, but other than that, I’m just cruising before JBay.
RC: Well, good luck over there Wilko! Enjoy your time at home, enjoy the win at Fiji, and enjoy re-living this session with your insane SearchGPS stats…