Julian Wilson won the 2012 US Open of Surfing in dominant fashion, beating surging Brazilian Miguel Pupo in the finals. From the first heat in the round of 96 all the way through the final, Wilson, known for his massive aerials, appeared eager to prove a point. He rode what the waves gave him and in front of a beach filled with an estimated half a million people he made a series of powerful turns in the finals to overwhelm Pupo for the win.
"It's like a dream come true to win this," Wilson, 23, said. "I'm speechless right now. To win this event, it's to be part of history. And I have to thank all of the fans that came down to the beach to watch today."
There really is no other competition setting like Huntington Beach, California, as people lined the pier in droves and packed every square inch of sand.
On the women's side of the draw, 2011 ASP World Champion Carissa Moore succumbed to 17-year-old Lakey Peterson, who has put in a strong bid for Rookie of the Year honors this year. The US Open marked the final event of the 2012 ASP Women's World Season; the title was clinched last month in France by Stephanie Gilmore.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to win here today," said Peterson. "I finished second here last years, so this has been a huge goal of mine, to go one further and try to win. Carissa's one of my heroes. She's such an inspiration, and to get the opportunity to surf against her in the final, it's amazing."
"It's been a great week, and I've had a lot of fun here," said Moore. "Lakey has a huge future ahead of her, and she's just getting started. It's great to see women's surfing pushed to this level."
For Wilson's part, his US Open win comes as a bit of redemption. "I struggled a little the beginning of the year," he explained. "I had a bit of an issue with an ankle injury, but I feel like I'm really coming into form now. When I lost in the first round at the Lowers Pro earlier this year it really fired me up; I used it as motivation to come back to California and push as hard as I could."
Turns out, channeling that energy worked. Wilson will now head to Tahiti for the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo with all the momentum in the world. He proved during the monster swell down there last year that he's undaunted by the wave, and with his head in the right space, he could be very dangerous. “After Tahiti, we have Trestles and France, and I love both of those waves, so I’m pretty excited and have a lot to look forward to.”
For now it's time to party in Huntington Beach, as if there haven't been enough parties already this week. Wilson walked away with a $100,000 check for the win, and as day wore into night, a bar was rented out and things were well on their way to getting silly, but that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
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