Julian Wilson was the last Novocastrian standing after a tough opening day in slow three-to-four foot surf at the Tweed Coast Pro on Sunday.
Wilson defeated Merewether's Ryan Callinan 14.07 to 11.53 in their round two elimination heat before Newcastle's other hope in the men's contest, Morgan Cibilic, fell to Mikey Wright 12.10 to 11.83.
Wilson, who has called Merewether home for about two years, faces West Australian Jack Robinson in the quarter-finals of the specialty event on Monday.
The Tweed Coast Pro at Cabarita Beach is the first in the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing, which is part of the World Surf League Countdown Series leading into a potential return of tour competitions after the COVID-19 shutdown.
The event brings together championship tour competitors, top qualifying series surfers and local wildcards.
Merewether's Philippa Anderson, invited to the women's contest as one of 2019's best QS surfers, bowed out on Sunday in back-to-back losses. Anderson (9.6) went down to CT young guns Macy Callaghan (12) and Isabella Nichols (11.84). Teenager Zahli Kelly (9.10) then edged out Anderson (7.77) in the elimination round.
Cibilic (8.93) and Callinan (8.77) lost to South African Matthew McGillivray (9.13) in their opener.
Cibilic competed despite suffering a perforated eardrum when surfing about three weeks ago at Bar Beach.
Wearing an earplug, bandanna and a helmet, Cibilic led multiple times before losing to Wright in a frantic finish to their heat. Wright trailed 9.93 to 9.67 into the final five minutes but scored a 6.43 from two big hacks. Cibilic ended with a 6.73 but still needed a 5.37 to go back ahead.
"It was pretty tricky, and I think the tide was changing a lot in our heat," Cibilic said.
"I started at the top and it went a bit wobbly and weird then I just moved down to where Mikey was and down there it was pretty similar.
"I spoke to him at the end of the heat and he said, 'yeah, it was pretty tough out there'. It is what it is and we'll move on."
The 20-year-old was to debut on the CT this year but he believed he had benefited from the enforced break.
"It's been probably the best thing that could have happened," he said.
"It's been an amazing year. I put so much pressure on myself at the start of the year to improve because I just felt I was just a little bit behind. I feel like I've grown a lot in myself and in my surfing.
"I'm feeling way more confident now. At the start of the year I would have been paddling out absolutely packing it for these heats."
Goofy-footer Callinan was not suited by the slow rights on offer.
"I felt OK," Callinan said.
"It's pretty tricky waves. You think you're going to come back in with all these comps firing and win these events, but not today.
"I was stoked to put the rashie back on, and even just to have a heat with Jules. It's one of the good things of having such a condensed event - you're always going to have great surfers to surf against, so it's a good start."
Wilson beat Callinan on a countback in the Surfest final in March at Merewether but the regular-footer was clearly on top on Sunday.
"I wanted to find more opportunities," Wilson said.
"I had a good start and then I was looking more up the point when I should have been looking down the point, so I was frustrated with myself, but everything felt pretty good and I harnessed my frustration.
"I felt good. I love surfing against all the boys, but Ryan is a super strong competitor so those heats are good. No holding back."
Tweed Coast Pro Women's Round of 12 Results:
HEAT 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 12.00 DEF. Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.84, Philippa Anderson (AUS) 9.60
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.93 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 11.73, India Robinson (AUS) 2.80
HEAT 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.66 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.04, Molly Picklum (AUS) 9.16
HEAT 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.57 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 9.53, Holly Wawn (AUS) 6.70
Tweed Coast Pro Women's Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 14.16 DEF. India Robinson (AUS) 12.60
HEAT 2: Zahli Kelly (AUS) 9.10 DEF. Philippa Anderson (AUS) 7.77
HEAT 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.17 DEF. Holly Wawn (AUS) 5.57
HEAT 4: Molly Picklum (AUS) 11.93 DEF. Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.27
Tweed Coast Pro Women's Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
HEAT 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Zahli Kelly (AUS)
HEAT 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 4: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Molly Picklum (AUS)
Tweed Coast Pro Men's Round of 12 Results
HEAT 1: Connor O'Leary (AUS) 11.23 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 10.80, Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.07
HEAT 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.17 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.30, Micah Margieson (AUS) 2.17
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 13.43 DEF. Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.34, Mikey Wright (AUS) 8.23
HEAT 4: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 9.13 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 8.93, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 8.77
Tweed Coast Pro Men's Elimination Round Results
HEAT 1: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.40 DEF. Micah Margieson (AUS) 11.67
HEAT 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 16.50 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 13.77
HEAT 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.07 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 11.53
HEAT 4: Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.10 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 11.83
Tweed Coast Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 2: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
HEAT 4: Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)