Every guy on tour has got his "thing." CJ Hobgood's is being gentlemen, John John is into barrels, Joel Parkinson's is winning, Taylor Knox stays loose and Kelly plays golf. You get the idea that Copacabana's Matt Wilkinson is into having fun.
Wilkinson's first years on tour were largely overshadowed by fellow young bucks. They were coming off the rookie hype of Jordy Smith and Dane Reynolds. And then, of course, there were the epic runs of Owen Wright and Julian Wilson. But "Wilko" has shown some moments of pure brilliance, particularly a nearly landed rodeo flip at Snapper rocks in 2011, a stunning display in code-red Teahupoo, and a final berth at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz last year.
Wilkinson finished 2012 down at he No. 24 spot, a result he is none to happy with. We pinned this underrated goofyfoot down during his recent trip to P-Pass to talk about some of these pressing issues.
We imagine you're working on some fun, futuristic airs there that we hope you uncap this season. Any clues as to what that might be?
P-Pass is not great for airs. I'm just trying to tune up my backhand tube riding. But over the (Southern Hemi) summer there have been some fun air sessions.
Not spilling the beans, huh? You're certainly considered one of the guys pushing aerial surfing right now. Seems like height with style have been worked out across the board. What's the next frontier in the technical realm?
There have been a lot of new grabs being thrown in the mix and to mesh them well with rotations is what everyone has been mastering.
You won the Coldwater Classic when it was a Prime and made the finals when it was a World Tour event? What is it about Steamer Lane?
I feel like I have a strong backhand and that is a tricky wave up there. I grew up surfing a bunch of different right hand points so I just think I adapt to waves like that fairly easily.
You have a thing for Santa Cruz hippie chicks too?
(Hearty laugh) Nah! I'm not really into the whole underarm hair, incense-burning chicks to be honest. (laughs.)
We were big fans of the custom Rip Curl wetsuit graphics. It seems like the more heats you make, the more creative the design?
Yeah, I love having fun with the suits! I'm stoked Rip Curl backed me on that. It seems like the fans like it too, so as long as I have ideas coming in, I'll keep the suits coming out.
Any feelings on Parkinson taking the title back to Australia. Are you a patriotic sports fan like that?
I love seeing an Aussie win, and for someone that has been close so many times, it makes it a very sweet victory.
I think what people were most impressed about you in the last few years is your approach in big waves. That seemed to surprise a lot of Americans. Do you see yourself doing well at the heavier stops on Tour?
Honestly I don't get a lot of opportunities to surf big waves, so if an event is in solid waves I just feel like it's a great chance to practice.
You've told us that you were not thrilled with a lot of your results in 2012. What can we hope for in 2013?
I would love to be in the top five, but top 10 I would be satisfied with, this year. I had higher hopes for last year, but I think the slow start hurt my confidence quite a bit. Bring on the new year!