Morgan Cibilic thought it would be a few years before he got to surf as an open competitor at the Australian Boardriders Battle for Merewether Surfboard Club, given the depth of their men's ranks.
A year on from filling in for an injured Ryan Callinan and helping the club to a maiden national title, Cibilic will return to the event at Newcastle Beach this weekend as a championship tour competitor.
It's a mark of how far the 20-year-old has come in just 12 months.
Cibilic was 111th on the qualifying series in 2018 and defied all expectations last year to rocket to 11th and narrowly secure his spot on the 34-man elite tour alongside Callinan.
Now the pair will lead a Merewether side featuring Mitchel Ross (over 35s), Philippa Anderson (women's) and Mikey Clayton-Brown (juniors). Jackson Baker, who also missed last year's win because of injury, and Craig Anderson will be their options in the air show on Sunday.
"I never expected myself to be in the opens for Merewether yet," Cibilic said on Friday.
"We have so many good guys - Ryan, Jacko, Jesse [Adam]. I was thinking it would be a few years away before I'd be in the ABB and then it all happened so quickly, so I'm pretty stoked.
"Our whole team last year, when someone stuffed up, another person would bring us back up.
"We didn't have our A team but I feel like most teams we can put together will do well in these competitions."
Callinan rested a knee problem last year at the ABB before going on to finish 14th in the world. The 27-year-old had been a standout for Merewether in previous national finals when the club finished just short of victory.
"I'm happy to be competing this year, it should be really fun waves," Callinan said. "I think last year they were feeling pretty good and it just shows the depth of talent in our club.
"But to not have maybe their best team on paper in the thing, maybe it took a bit of pressure off them and they just went out did what they had to do.
"But it's exciting and now we've got a really strong team, so hopefully we can go back to back."
A local trials winner, decided on Saturday morning, will join 23 clubs from across the nation in two days of competition at Newcastle.
Men's, women's, masters and junior divisions will run on Saturday to decide seedings for the deciding teams events on Sunday.