Port Macquarie's Matt Banting thought he felt 100 per cent again last year after 14 months out of competition battling osteitis pubis.
But after continuing his flying start to 2019 at Surfest on Friday, Banting knows he still had more to give.
The 24-year-old progressed to the final eight at the Burton Automotive Pro at Merewether - one round further than last year when the former championship tour surfer was easing his way back into competition.
Banting won the 6000-point qualifying series event at Surfest in 2014 to help him rise to the CT, where he spent two injury-plagued seasons.
Last year he finished 40th on the QS after a poor mid-season run but the natural-footer has hit back in 2019, winning the 1000-point Great Lakes Pro and finishing second at the 3000-point Central Coast Pro.
He has the chance to add even more points on the weekend when he faces Japan's Hiroto Ohhara for a quarter-final berth. He earned that clash with a second to Leonardo Fioravanti in round four on Friday in bumpy, one-metre waves.
"I'm feeling 100 per cent now," Banting said of his return from osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the pubic bone. "After looking at last year and thinking I was 100 per cent, I think I've grown in leaps and bounds since.
"Even watching footage of myself surfing from last year, and now strength-wise in the gym, I feel like I've come into my own, which is good.
"I did a few of the lower-rated event, and won the 1000 up at Boomerang, then got a second at Avoca last week. It was a stacked 3000 and it's given me a lot of confidence coming into these events just with a heap of heats under my belt.
"I'm just going to go into every event 100 per cent and try the best I can, and that's all I can do. Just control the controllables and hopefully a few waves come my way.
"I really want to get on that tour at the end of the year, but it's such a long year ahead.
"Last year I fell off the horse a little bit from July onwards, then I had a good contest at Sunset, so it would be good if I can manage that gap between July and October and get a few good results. Just keep it up all year."
Merewether's Jackson Baker was bitterly disappointed after bowing out by just 0.03 of a point in a frantic finish in round four.
Baker was in line to progress from the three-man heat until Miguel Tudela pushed him into last spot with four minutes left on the clock. The pair went wave for wave. Baker earned a 3.57 and needed a 3.6 from his last score to get through but was given a 3.17 just after the final siren. West Australian Jack Robinson (11.33) starred with a 7.33 from a huge air to win the heat in front of Tudela (8.43) and Baker (8.40).
"I'm gutted," Baker said. "I'd started to get a bit of a roll on, scraping through yesterday, and I thought there'd be more opportunities in a heat like that but there was absolutely nothing.
"Personally, I thought I had the score. I think both of those scores were at least fours, but the judges don't agree."
"I guess the one I had, I surfed it to get the score, not at that top of my ability because with three minutes to go, I'm not going to risk falling. That's the difference between him not having another wave and I could have had a 4.5 or surf to the score.
"My second one, if I finish that I have a 5 with a 4.8. Jack hadn't got his 7 yet, so I could sit on that and the heat's done.
"It's a good start to the year but it could have been a whole lot better. I set pretty high goals and a quarters or a semi would have been ideal. I set the goal of trying to qualify and 1000 points won't help me do that."
In other round five match-ups, Jack Robinson takes on Deivid Silva, Miguel Tudela meets Miguel Pupo, Jadson Andre faces Beyrick De Vries, Krystian Kymerson clashes with Tanner Gudauskas, Fioravanti drew Caleb Tancred, Carlos Munoz verses Charly Quivront and Patrick Gudauskas Alex Ribeiro.