Relaxed Wilson starts World Championship tour prep well

COOLUM Beach ace Julian Wilson says a pre-season spent mainly on the Sunshine Coast has provided him with the ideal lead-up to the World Championship Tour's first event at Snapper Rocks.

While most of the globe's top surfers took part in World Qualifying Series events and trained at busy competition hotspots, the 26-year-old remained out of the spotlight, instead opting to hone his skills on local beaches close to family.

That approach has seemingly worked.

Wilson won his opening-round heat of the Quiksilver Pro yesterday, scoring a two-wave total of 15.43 (out of 20) to beat Brazil's Italo Ferreira (14.97) and American Kolhoe Andino (10.43).

"I came down (to Snapper) in January and rode some boards and had some fun, but in the last couple of weeks there has been so much swell about and it's a bit easier for me to catch waves on the right-hand points up at my house (at Noosa in particular), so I was just riding waves up there and having fun and not trying to get caught up in all the madness (at Snapper) just yet," he said.

Wilson was 14th overall in last year's WCT but finished the season by winning the prestigious Pipe Masters and Triple Crown of Surfing.

He looms as one of the threats to world champion Gabriel Medina in 2015, but the Brazilian was arguably the pick of the surfers at Coolangatta yesterday as he won his opening-round heat with a score of 18.30.

The Sunshine Coast's Dimity Stoyle started her 2015 women's WCT journey in impressive fashion by winning her opening round heat with a score of 11.76.

She beat Hawaii's Alessa Quizon (10.26) and Australian Tyler Wright (6.97) to earn direct passage into round three.

"The Gold Coast is like my second home," Stoyle said.

Stoyle, 23, missed out on an automatic berth on this year's WCT after finishing just outside the requalifying mark in her maiden campaign last year, but was awarded a wildcard entry for this year's events.