Ride Shotgun with Julian Wilson Behind the Scenes on the World Tour – Red Bull

For the past 12 months, Julian Wilson has been producing his very own short video series titled The In Between Series – a raw, real and behind the scenes look at his life on Tour, travelling with a family. The response has been huge, and people have appreciated seeing the realities behind a life on the road, the good the bad and the uncomfortable. Today, almost one full year after his first release, we caught up with Julian to see how it was all going.

Talk to us about why you decided to start The In Between Series…

Last year after Pipe, my good friend and filmer Jimmy had a bunch of footage left over from the Pipe Masters. He was following us behind the scenes and my family and I are really comfortable with him in our space. He asked if I minded if he cut something together. I said yes, and people responded to it really well and liked it. We ran with it, and it’s now our Vlog.

How important is it for people to see the realities behind life on tour? It’s not all perfect, there’s a lot that goes into it.

Yeah, I think it’s a really good way to show people the realities of surfing and travelling with a family on Tour. I feel super thankful for doing what I do, but there are always testing times – and it’s nice to give people an insight into the logistics of getting around the world and competing for nine months of a year, with a family, all while trying to go for a World Title and put it all together. There are a lot of moving parts, and I hope that comes across in an authentic way. A lot of other sports show a lot of behind the scenes – the viewer gets let into the athletic world a bit and it has people gripped, people want to follow athletes and their journeys. In surfing we are all on our own program so unless we create that ourselves, that insight isn’t there. I have had some really nice messages from random people following the videos and being really supportive.

What’s been the best part about the process thus far?

Being able to collect the memories. Knowing that one day I’ll be able to show my daughter what it was like – that’s the best thing that I get out of it. Knowing we have that. Last year was pretty monumental with a newborn, and to have those videos is pretty cool.

A big part of the series is about your baby Olivia, and family life on Tour – how has having a child changed life on Tour for you?

I’m definitely a lot less selfish with my time these days, thinking that I need to be certain places and have things to a certain way in order to get results. When I get my chances to surf, I surf. When it’s time to compete, I compete. I really try to separate competition from family time and I’m always trying to be more present with my family. Travelling and competing is so enjoying, and as hectic as it is to add a baby to the situation, it’s also really refreshing. It makes it so easy to switch off and enjoy where you are in between the stresses of competition. I think when I met my wife and she really enjoyed travelling with me, it was like bringing a fresh set of eyes to these beautiful locations and amazing lifestyle, which was really cool. Now it’s that same feeling all over again, with a fresh set of eyes and appreciation. My daughter is still very young but over the next few years it’ll be a pretty cool journey.

And you have another baby on the way!

Yeah! We didn’t wait around too long. My wife is due on the 12th of January, and we are really excited. I had a busted shoulder last year during the time that she was due, and then Olivia was born just one week before Snapper – there was so much going on. This year it’s nice to know that I have some time on my side to be there and help out, because it’ll definitely be needed.

You moved to Newcastle this year also – what was the decision there and how has it been going? How does training in Newcastle, in terms of waves, differ from training on the Sunshine Coast?

We moved to Newcastle a couple of days after Snapper, straight after OIivia was born. My wife was going really well up until baby came and then I think most women really need their mum around at that time, and it was obvious. For me to travel and continue on doing what I was doing, we needed to pack up straight away and move to Newcastle. We’ve been there since.

Being based in Newcastle has changed my surfing experience at home a lot. The wave quality where I’m from on the Sunshine Coast is not so great, but the crowds are quiet – Newcastle has better waves, but it’s a lot more competitive in the lineup. I’ve just been adjusting to that and trying to find my feet – it’s been a bit different but it’s nice to have good waves at your doorstep when you’re home.

Talk to us a bit about your year – last year you won at Snapper and again in France, but this year has been a bit rocky. The results haven’t really fallen into place. What’s been going on?

It has been a challenging year. I think I felt quite flat this year – last year was pretty monumental for me, taking a World Title race down to the last few heats at Pipe – and it took a lot out of me. I had high expectations this year but I don’t think I have the energy and the effort to match. I also had eye surgery halfway through the year and that ended up taking me out of the water for five weeks, just between JBay and Tahiti. I had to get a pygidium removed – it had grown over my pupil and had started to affect my vision. It’s a pretty full on procedure… they scrape it while you’re awake, it’s very intrusive and the recovery is gnarly. It’s better now and they are able to take most of it off, and it had to be done.

After getting second in the world and losing that Title at the last moment, does it make it hard to back it up? Essentially, you’re doing the same amount of work and falling a few thousand points behind…

It takes a lot out of you. I think I spent the first half of this year with high hopes, wanting to throw my hat in the ring for the Title race and not being able to. The back half of the year I’ve just been trying to put the pieces in place to be ready for next year. That’s been really different for me, as opposed to the last four years where I’ve been in the Title Race and focusing on winning. This year I’ve stepped back and had to re-assess my program, and plan on coming in refreshed and focused for next year.

What are you most excited about in 2020, for life on Tour?

I am going to have a new addition to the family, so that’s definitely the most exciting thing to look forward to in 2020. But it’s going to be a big year. I’d love to qualify for the Olympics and be a part of that, and I want to put a good campaign together. This year we’ve had really good waves on Tour and it’s a really exciting time to be a part of the tour and competing at this level.

And lastly, what’s the biggest parenting tip you have learnt from travelling with kids?

Probably just to remember that you’ve got to be kind to yourself. I think we are all very lucky to lead the lives we lead – and you’ve just got to keep reminding yourself that when you feel like guilty for your child crying for six hours straight on a flight. They just want to be with you, so just try and not let it get on top of you. Just be the best parent you can be and that’s all you can do. On Tour and travelling, you spend a lot of time making your little one uncomfortable by dragging them out of routines, but I think you have to remember to just be compassionate and kind to yourself. It’s really hard to do sometimes, but you’ve got to. Hopefully these experiences expands their horizons and open up doors.

Watch more from The In Between Series here: