Things are beginning to feel all too familiar for Paige Hareb on the World Surf League qualifying series.
After three years adrift, Hareb requalified for the 2018 Championship Tour after last year's qualifying series (QS). It came down to the final event of the year in 2017, and it's looking likely to be the case again.
The 28-year-old jumped up the rankings on the QS on Monday (NZ time) with a third-placed finish at the Pantin Classic Pro in France. Hareb was eliminated by defending champion and eventual winner Coco Ho, but considerably improved her points total. Fellow Kiwi Ella Williams was unable to compete in the event due to injury.
Hareb wasn't the only Kiwi to find themselves on a WSL podium in the past few days, with Elliot Paerata-Reid finishing second at the Simeulue Pro, a smaller QS event in Indonesia.
Hareb earned 3550 points for her efforts, which improved her season total by 2920 to lift her to ninth place on the QS ladder and well in contention to secure a spot on next year's CT.
On the QS, a surfer's best five results are counted at the end of the year. The top six with the most points qualify for the CT the following year. However, if a surfer finishes the year in the top six on the QS, but requalifies with a top 10 finish on the CT, the next highest QS athlete is promoted.
As the situation stands with just one major QS event remaining and three competitions left on the CT schedule, Hareb would secure the fifth QS ticket.
Aside from the reward of surfing on the CT, qualifying for next year's tour could improve Hareb's chance at Olympic qualification.
The eight highest ranked eligible athletes on next year's women's CT qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. However, only four athletes from each country can compete surfing at the Olympics - two men and two women. In 2018, Hareb and France's Johanne Defay are the only two full-time competitors not from Australia, the United States or Brazil.
Fresh of her best result of the year, Hareb won't get much time to rest as she turns her attention to her first individual competition in a wave pool.
The CT heads to California this week for an event at the Surf Ranch. Hareb has already tasted victory at the venue, winning the inaugural Founders' Cup as part of Team World.
The remaining CT events take the tour to France in early October and Hawaii in late November, with the final major QS event of the season held in Australia in early November.
Qualifying Series standings:
1. Caroline Marks* (USA) - 20,700 points
2. Coco Ho (Hawaii) - 18,650
3. Nikki van Dijk* (Australia) - 13,550
4. Silvana Lima (Brazil) - 13,180
5. Bronte Macaulay (Australia) - 12,900
6. Keely Andrew (Australia) - 12,850
7. Tatiana Weston-Webb* (Brazil) - 12,700
8. Malia Manuel* (Hawaii) - 12,300
9. Paige Hareb (New Zealand) - 11,500
10. Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica) - 11,400
* - also in the top 10 on the Championship Tour.