There's a reason it's known as the dream tour.
For most surfers, the World Surf League championship tour - featuring the top 34 male and best 17 female boardriders on the planet - remains just that, a dream.
Each year, hundreds battle away on the qualifying series, plane-hopping and room-sharing their way around the world chasing points, prizemoney and main draw entries to rise up the rankings and keep their hopes afloat.
Just 10 from the men's series and six from the women's earn promotion to the following year's main tours.
Those lucky few, some wildcards, and the top 22 and top 10 respectively from the previous season's tours, make up next year's series.
While some rising stars have sponsorships from big-name brands and are marketed as living an idyllic existence, seemingly destined to make the CT, the reality is that most don't make it.
Many fund their own ambitions with part-time jobs, or help from friends and family, to chase the dream before eventually conceding defeat and opting for a real job.
For many who do make it, the rise takes several seasons of competition, often in average surf in four-person heats where two progress and two bow out.
Merewether's Ryan Callinan, now preparing for a third year on the CT, was long thought to be one of the next big talents in Australia. Our own four-time world champion, Mark Richards, said he always believed Callinan had the ability to be a championship contender.
Injuries played their part, but Callinan was 23 before he qualified - just - in 2015 for his first CT season.
Clubmate Philippa Anderson has competed for a decade on the women's QS, which offers even less CT opportunities, and she has fallen a heat win or two short of qualifying several times.
Sure, it's not a job digging ditches, but for most it's probably not all fun in the sun either.
The cut-throat nature of the qualifying series makes the emergence of another Merewether surfer, Morgan Cibilic, even more remarkable this year.
The unassuming 20-year-old was largely unknown in the surfing world until the past few months, but he is now on the cusp of joining Callinan on the CT, battling superstars like Gabriel Medina and John John Florence on iconic breaks such as J-Bay, Bells Beach, Teahupo'o and Pipeline.
A year ago, Cibilic finished his first full season on the second-tier tour, where he competed almost entirely in 1000-point events - the lowest rated on the series - because of his ranking.
Victory at the 1000-point Mandurah Pro in October 2018, and other results, helped Cibilic finish 111th on the QS, opening the door to starts in the highest-rated, 10,000-point events, this year.
After a slow start at mostly lesser contests, Cibilic turned giant killer at the major competitions in Europe.
His breakthrough result came in September at the 10,000-point Galicia Classic Surf Pro in Spain, where he beat Surfest champion Alex Ribeiro and former CT star Matt Wilkinson en route to the semi-finals.
A round of 16 effort at the 10,000-point Ericeira Pro in Portugal left him 16th on the QS heading into the season-ending triple crown leg in Hawaii.
Overcoming a torn ligament in his knee suffered just a few weeks earlier, Cibilic stayed in the hunt with a round-four finish at the Hawaiian Pro before a quarter-final exit at the World Cup of Surfing left him 11th, but in position to qualify, on 18,100 points from his best five efforts through the year.
He was just 125 points in front of West Australian Stu Kennedy, who would have finished ahead of Cibilic had he come third in his next heat and not fourth.
That's how close it can get.
Cibilic finished one place outside automatic qualification for the tour, but with a strong chance of making it.
Why? Well, Brazilians Deivid Silva and Yago Dora finished inside the QS top 10 but they are also a chance to qualify for 2020 via the CT's top 22. If one does, it means a spot opens up for the next in line on the QS - Cibilic.
It's coming down to the wire at the CT season-ending Pipe Masters in Hawaii, which was on hold on Friday (AEDT).
Silva is out but remains 22nd on the live standings for 2019. Dora is 23rd and faces Australian Julian Wilson in the round of 16, possibly on Saturday (AEDT).
A heat win for Dora will put him inside the top 22 instead of Silva, and Cibilic's situation doesn't change.
The wildcards are Jesse Mendes, who next faces American Griffin Colapinto, and, to a lesser extent, Australian Soli Bailey, who meets Florence.
If Dora loses to Wilson, and Mendes or Soli, who are not QS top 10, leapfrog Silva in the standings, Cibilic misses out. Mendes, though, would need to make the semis. Bailey would have to win the contest.
In short, Cibilic is looking good.
And regardless of what happens at Pipeline, he is likely to feature on the CT next year as an injury or retirement replacement.
No matter the finish, Cibilic's rapid rise this year is amazing.
In 12 months, he may jump from Australian 1000-point events, which feature mostly young local talent, to mixing it with the world's best.
In football terms, it would be like a Young Socceroos player rising to the senior national team for a World Cup in one year. Or an under-20s rugby league talent playing State of Origin after one NRL season.
"I was going to put off uni for a couple of years," Cibilic said a year ago. "If I couldn't crack the top 100 by the time I was 21, 22, then I would give surfing a miss, I guess, and carry on with my life, but I'm doing pretty well at the moment so I don't think I'm going to stop anytime soon hopefully."
Definitely not, Morgan.