Wilson’s world title hopes crash
SURFING: Australia will end the year with three of world surfing's major crowns and a rookie award but not the men's title after Julian Wilson's slim hopes of victory were wiped out at the Pipeline Masters.
Tyler Wright and juniors Ethan Ewing and Macy Callaghan all end 2017 as world champions, Sydney's Connor O'Leary has nabbed Rookie of the Year honours but Wilson has missed his opportunity to add to the haul in Hawaii.
Wilson needed his young compatriot Ewing to knock defending champion John Florence out of the competition in round four to keep alive his slim hopes of securing a maiden crown.
And while Ewing came within a whisker of causing mass disruption to the world order of surfing, Florence eventually advanced with a 0.07 advantage.
"Definitely a crazy, close heat," Florence said.
"Ethan (Ewing) is such a great surfer.
"I'm obviously super stoked to keep going in this event. But that was really hard out there. It's tough to find the good ones."
On the same day Wilson's world title dream ended, Bede Durbidge retired to take up a role guiding Australia's first surfers to the Tokyo Olympics.
"It's super exciting for me and something I'm very passionate about," Durbidge said.
"I have a really good job moving forward and transitioning into working with the Olympic Australian team at HPC and Surfing Australia."
Also bowing out of the Pipeline Masters were Josh Kerr, Mick Fanning, Jack Freestone, former world No.1 Matt Wilkinson and fellow Australian Owen Wright.
Wright made a fairytale return to surfing at the start of the year but he was unable to replicate the feat in his last competitive surf of the year.
He failed to advance out of the elimination second round at the site of a wipeout which nearly ended his career in December 2015.