Mark Occhilupo
Mark Occhilupo David Thomas

Occy predicts Julian Wilson could take out a world title

FORMER world champion Mark Occhilupo reckons Coolum Beach ace Julian Wilson could challenge for the world title this year.

Occhilupo, who finished atop the ASP World Tour standings in 1999, said the 24-year-old natural footer has the attributes of a winner.

"He's made it into the top-10 for the last two years in a row and I wouldn't be surprised for him to get into the top five or even challenge for a world title because he's pretty much got it all," Occhilupo said.

"He's a good tube rider, he likes big waves and he can draw out his turns, so I definitely think he's right up there among the Aussie contingent.

"It could happen this year, next year ... he just needs to get on a roll and get that confidence going."

Occhilupo, 46, said there have been high expectations of Wilson since his debut in 2011 but added, "I think he's coming along really well."

"When Julian first burst on to the scene we thought he would go straight into the top five and maybe win a world title, but there are many surfers that have that label put on them by people and sponsors and media, thinking they're going to be a world-beater straight away," he said.

"Surfing is hard like that. With Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning, you've still got to get past guys like that."

After finishing ninth overall in his rookie year, Wilson claimed a breakthrough event win at Portugal last year en-route to another ninth place.

He started his 2013 campaign with a fifth place at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast earlier this month.

And Occhilupo said the 25-year-old should be in contention at the Rip Curl Pro, which gets under way at iconic Bells Beach tomorrow.

"Julian has got a chance for sure," the former event winner said.

"Bells is a unique wave because it's really nice on the eye but when you get out there and surf it can be a challenge. The more powerful guys are way better out there.

"It's for the big turns and linking them all together is the trick. Julian can really draw out his turns.

"I've seen him do it at Hawaii and at Bells in previous years."

"Julian is really adaptable. Even though he is more suited to his aerials he can also settle it down."

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