Merewether's Morgan Cibilic earned a heat-high 8.33 score with a huge vertical snap in bowling Sunset Beach monsters as he stayed in the race for a championship tour spot on Monday (AEDT) at the Vans World Cup of Surfing in Hawaii.
The 20-year-old, needing to progress to the round of 32 to keep his qualifying dream alive, was in second place in the final 10 minutes on a best two-wave total of 8.13. He sat behind defending champion Ezekiel Lau (13.84) but with CT star Griffin Colapinto and friend Liam O'Brien chasing a score to bump Cibilic out of the top two.
With competitors regularly wiping out in the wild swell, Cibilic took off on a wave in the final 90 seconds, hitting the lip with a vertical snap on his first turn and keeping his feet on the huge drop. He completed only one more turn before for wiping out, but the critical maneuver was enough to gain an 8.33.
In the end, his score before the wave would have been enough to progress as Colapinto (7.83) and O'Brien (5.97) exited in round three.
Cibilic faces Nolan Rapoza, Jesse Mendes and Matthew McGillivray in the round of 32, needing to progress again to stay in the fight for a top 10 finish on the qualifying series.
He was 16th before the season-ending 10,000-point contest and will now pick up at least 2100 points at Sunset Beach. The effort so far will add at least 1100 points to his overall total, which counts only his best five tallies of the year. His lowest score in his best five is 1000.
He was on 15,500 points, 1810 points behind the last man inside the qualification line, Frenchman Jorgann Couzinet (17,310), before the contest.
Merewether's Ryan Callinan, who is safely requalified through the CT, was second in his opening heat to also progress.
Callinan (10.5) was second to McGillivray (10.7) but in front of Finn McGill (9) and Joaquin Del Castillo (7.37).
He faces Connor O'Leary, Lau and Conner Coffin in heat one of round four.