Matt Wilkinson’s world surfing title hopes faded dramatically at Lower Trestles last year but the top-ranked Australian believes he’s learnt his lesson.
Wilkinson led the championship for much of 2016 but his 25th placing on the eighth tour leg at the famous Californian break appeared to hammer his confidence.
The world No.3 failed to progress past the third round of the remaining three events to finish fifth last year.
This season has been somewhat similar, with the 28-year-old taking the tour lead after winning in Fiji in June, but he relinquished to Jordy Smith after a fifth-round elimination at the last event in Tahiti.
“Last year, I started so well then slowly just let it slip away,” Wilkinson said before the Trestles competition window opening on Wednesday.
“But I definitely gave my best and learned a whole lot about myself.
“Now, being in that leading pack just makes me a little more hungry to get some more ground on people.”
Wilkinson has never reached the quarter-finals at Trestles but has worked out a strategy before his first heat against fellow Australians Bede Durbidge and Ethan Ewing.
“As a goofyfooter, you have hold off the temptation of going left a little bit,” he said.
“It’s one of the most rippable waves on tour and I think just keeping tempo on the waves is pretty key to hunting big scores out here.”
Wilkinson sits 1900 championship points behind South African Smith, with Hawaiian defending world champion John John Florence second.
In the women’s event, world No.2 Sally Fitzgibbons believes she’s primed to push for a maiden career championship having last been a genuine contender in 2015.
But she’ll have to wrest the lead off fellow Australian and defending world champion Tyler Wright, who claimed the Trestles crown last year.
The Lower Trestles event will be contested to September 17.