by Mitchell Craig
A SECOND placed finish at the Quiksilver Pro will give Byron Bay surfer Matt Wilkinson the confidence boost he needs heading into the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia next week.
He beat current world champion John John Florence in the semi-finals of the Quicksilver Pro before going down to a returning Owen Wright in the final.
Wilkinson won two of the three Australian events on the World Championship Tour last year and finished the season fifth overall.
He admits to feeling the pressure when he returned to Snapper Rocks as the defending champion of the Quiksilver Pro.
"Before the event, I thought I was going to absolutely blow it and I was pretty wound up,” Wilkinson said.
"All the pressure fell off when I went out there. It's good fun to surf this wave with no one out there.
"Last year was massive for me. Last week was the first time I have surfed Snapper since my win last year, and it feels good to be back.”
Lennox Head surfer Stu Kennedy was unable to replicate his form which saw him reach the semi-finals last year and was eliminated in the third round.
He should have plenty to look forward to this season after completing his first full year on the tour last year.
Former Lennox Head surfer Tyler Wright is the defending women's champion this year and was eliminated in the quarter-finals.
"This is a new year so I'm not going to focus too much on last year,” Wright said.
"I was happy with it.”