JACKSON Baker will need a strong finish in the final Challenger Series event in Hawaii to secure a spot on the World Surf League Championship Tour in 2022 after the Merewether natural footer bombed out in the first round of the Quicksilver Pro in France.
Continuing a roller-coaster ride on the second-tier tour, Baker finished third in his opening round heat with a best two-wave total of 11.97. Western Australian Jacob Wilcox (12.96) won the heat from Frenchman Beyrick De Vries (12.53).
Jackson recorded a 6.60 in his final wave but fell just short of progressing to the second round.
The early exit - a repeat of his performance in the US Open - was major come down after the 24-year-old's stunning run to the final in Portugal 10 days ago.
Jackson finished runner-up to Hawaiian and former Championship Tour surfer Ezekiel Lau but the 8000 points propelled him 58 places up the rankings to seventh.
The top 12 qualify for the Championship Tour, where Jackson hopes to join Merewether mates Ryan Callinan and Morgan Cibilic.
Although certain to fall in the rankings, Jackson will still be in a strong position entering the Heleiwa Challenger starting on November 25.
In the women's event, adopted Novocastrian Sarah Baum finished second in her heat to progress to the round of 32 where she will join Merewether's Philippa Anderson.
Baum carved out scores of 3.83 and 4.47 for a total of 8.30, to finish just ahead of Kobie Enright (8.03). Anderson finished second in her heat on Monday night.
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