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 returned to the event, held at Newcastle Beach last 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.
The pair were part of a talented Merewether battle side with Mitchel Ross (over 35s), Philippa Anderson (women's) and Mike Clayton-Brown (juniors).
"I never expected myself to be in the opens for Merewether yet," Cibilic said. "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."
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.
The CT surfer was back in the line-up for this year's team, hoping to help Merwether to a back-to-back title. But it was not the case.
Merewether's title defence fell at their first hurdle in the decisive teams event on Sunday as North Shore, North Narrabeen, North Shelley and Bondi progressed to the final.
North Shore jumped from third to first in a dramatic finish to the Australian Boardriders Battle decider at Newcastle Beach on Sunday.
Merewether were fourth after Saturday's individual sections. They led their heat on 35.9 when Callinan finished their run with nine minutes remaining, but Torquay (30) and North Shore (30.8) had a score each to lock in.
Torquay took the lead with a 7.25 to go to 37.25 before Alister Reginato got a 6.1 to put North Shore on 36.7 and drop Merewether to third and out of the contest.