Julian Wilson wins the Mr Price Pro Ballito

Julian Wilson won his first big surf contest since last year’s Rip Curl Pro Portugal by taking out the Mr Price Pro Ballito Prime event in South Africa on Saturday. Wilson squared off against hometown hero Jordy Smith in a highly anticipated, action-packed final that looked more like a surf video than a heat. In 3- to 4-foot high performance rights, both surfers took to the air, but it was Wilson who went bigger—stomping a huge lien grab alley oop for a perfect 10-point ride.

“I’m really happy to get the win!” said Wilson. “It’s my third time in Durban, and I’ve gotten a good result each time. I really enjoy spending time here; it’s a great place with friendly people where I feel warm and comfortable. It definitely helps with my results.”

The high-flying Wilson claimed the Best Male Performance award at Surfer Poll back in 2007 and came of age alongside Smith and Dane Reynolds. He has been a bit overshadowed as of late by younger surfers who have burst onto the scene, such John John Florence, Gabriel Medina, Nat Young, and Felipe Toledo. This win, though, combined with a strong quarterfinal finish at the recent Oakley Pro Bali, gives him momentum going into the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach, California, later this month. He is the defending champion at that event.

Australians Mitch Crews and Stuart Kennedy finished equal third and both rocketed up the world rankings list. Midway through the year they find themselves ranked at 27 and 31, well within contention to quality for the 2014 ASP World Tour.