When SURFING asked for a Julian Wilson interview (“Quick, he’s in Bali for a few days”), the best way to get in touch was to step outside and find him.
Gauging by the swell, I popped down to Canggu Rights and scanned the beach. Two photogs posted up on the bluff was a good sign. Then the next thing I saw was the silhouette of a body spinning high above the wave. Spinning and spinning. More spinning than would be necessary for anything other than a helicopter or a blender. 540? 720? I rubbed my eyes…not entirely sure what I’d just seen, but pretty sure who I’d seen do it.
His board snapped upon landing. (His last board.) And Julian Wilson came strolling up the beach.
SURFING: What was that air you were just trying?
JULIAN: It’s just a double alley oop. I still haven’t landed one properly.
How long have you been trying those double alley oops?
I tried when I was filming for Scratching the Surface two years ago. That’s when I first thought maybe I could do it. Canggu Right is probably the best wave to do ‘em, so I’ve been so anxious to try it again. I wanna get it done before I leave.
Do you know of anyone else trying ‘em?
I know Kerrzy’s been trying, with a grab going all the way around.
What’s the hardest thing about doing it?
You gotta spin so fast that it’s kinda out of control. But, just doing a full rotation alley oop now is pretty standard. I’ve been doing them for a while, and they’re pretty boring. I feel like you could get another half spin and land and keep spinning. That would be sick.
Do you have a cute name picked out? The Juli-oop or maybe the J-Double-Oops.
No. I guess I’d just call it like a double alley oop or something.
Do you ever wish you’d named the Sushi Roll the Julian Roll or something?
No. That wasn’t even my name. We were in Japan for a Surfing Life mag trip with Mitch Coleborn and Jay Davies, and that’s where I first made one. And they were like, “What are you gonna call it?” I didn’t want to call it anything, it was just another maneuver. But they were like, “No, call it the Sushi Roll ‘cause we’re in Japan and it’s kinda a Superman…” It kinda suited it. I kinda forgot about it until it started popping up in magazines as a Sushi Roll.
Kerrzy suffered a bit at first for naming his Kerrupt, but now it’s just part of our vernacular.
The Kerrupt name is pretty good. But at the time, people were definitely calling shit on it. You have to ride it out, I guess.
Following our interview, Julian procured some fresh boards and continued spinning. I kept my eye on the rights hoping to witness him achieve his goal. But (to my knowledge), he wasn’t able to ride one out.
I almost deleted the above snippet of interview entirely, until I saw the above video of Julian’s brief stint in Bali. Note the missed attempt at 2:12 — gorgeously almost amidst the flurry of other amazing moments.
It reminded me of an earlier interview with English aerialist Reubyn Ash, who had posted some near attempts of his own new maneuver (a forehand Rodeo). People got all grumpy (as they do) that he hadn’t landed the move, but Reubyn’s take was that it was just cool to see what people were trying.
Julian and I discussed that issue a bit and he enjoyed seeing people go for things, even if they weren’t making them. Yet. It showed what was possible. What was soon to come.
Like this double alley oop (potentially known as the “Juli-oop”®).
The world needs almosts. —Nathan Myers