Kiwi surfer Ricardo Christie has learned firsthand the power welcoming a newborn child to the world can bring to professional athletes.
Often referred to as 'Dad Power' for male athletes, they find a new source of strength when they're competing somewhere across the globe.
Christie and partner Sophie Steevens welcomed a son, Jai, in May. A month later, the 29-year-old posted his best-ever result at the Ballito Pro in South Africa – one of the biggest events on the World Surf League qualifying series (QS) with 10,000 points awarded to the winner.
"It's pretty tough to leave, to be honest," Christie said of travelling abroad to compete. "But it gives you that extra motivation to make your time away worthwhile – maybe that's the Dad Power thing; there's no point in going away unless you make it worth it, so maybe that's what I feel now."
Christie, who had a taste of the Championship Tour (CT) in 2015, finished in fifth place in Ballito earning 5200 points toward his qualification bid. He was eliminated by eventual runner-up Jack Freestone of Australia – himself a new dad.
With the points gained in Ballito, Christie sits in the top-10 on the QS leaderboard – with the top 10 getting automatic qualification for next year's CT.
Christie would likely only compete in five more events on the series this year – only targeting the QS10,000s where the most points are on offer. Next week he'll contest the Vans US Open at California's Huntington Beach where he was a quarter-finalist last year.
If he can repeat that performance this time around, he'll be well on his way to his qualification target of 18,000 points.
"I think it could be quite a low year because there's not many event," Christie said. "And to tell you the truth, at the big events, a lot of the points get taken by World tour guys, so there's not many people who can get those points."
A season haul of 18,000 points should see him qualify. The lowest points tally for qualification on the 2017 QS was 16,400.
And while the QS is his main focus this year, Christie said next year the thought of a possible Olympic Games campaign would start creeping in.
"It's a tough one to be honest, because I'm just so focused on the qualifying series. It's in the back of my mind to be honest. If I can get on tour this year, then I'm sure I can transfer a lot of my energy into (Olympic qualification).
"It's not quite there yet. I'm sure everyone will start buzzing about that, for sure."
Some Kiwi Olympic hopefuls will travel to Japan in September to attend the ISA World Surfing Games, which will act as a qualification competition in 2019 and 2020. With steep travel costs, the team were crowdfunding to help get them over to the competition.
Surfing New Zealand was hoping to raise $30,000, which would help to cover the cost of flights and accommodation for the six-strong team.
Remaining Men's QS10,000s in 2018 (dates in NZ time)
- Vans US Open of Surfing; Huntington Beach, California, USA. July 31 - August 6
- EDP Billabong Pro; Ericeira, Portugal. September 24 - 30
- Hang Loose Pro; Maresias, Sao Paulo, Brazil. October 30 - November 4 (tentative)
- Hawaiian Pro; Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii. November 13 - 25
- Vans World Cup; Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii. November 26 - December 7