Ricardo Christie has set himself up nicely for a big finish to this year's World Surf League qualifying series.
With just two major events left on the calendar, the Kiwi surfer sits within touching distance of rejoining the world's elite after a 13th-place finish in Portugal at the weekend.
"I've put myself in a good position, but I've still got some work to do," Christie told the Herald. "I suppose I've started a little bit of momentum though to continue. I definitely didn't feel like I did what I wanted to in Portugal so I'm stoked there's another opportunity coming up for me."
Christie impressed in the opening rounds of the prime contest, which had 10,000 points on offer to the winner, and progressed through to the round of 16 looking like one of the guys to beat – winning all of his early heats in surprisingly good swell for a QS event.
However, the swell that seemed too good to last dropped away on the penultimate day of competition, leaving Christie to battle against Australian Ryan Callinan in a slow and sleepy heat. Callinan made the better of the situation, and went on to win the whole event.
Finishing 13th equal, Christie walked away with 3700 points which lifted his season total to 11,700. As a result, he moved three spots up the ladder into 14th. The top 10 on the QS ladder at season's end qualify for next year's Championship Tour. However, if someone in the top 10 also finishes in the top 22 on the CT ladder, the next best surfer on the QS is promoted. If both seasons ended today, Christie would be one spot outside of qualification.
The 29-year-old from Gisborne will now turn his attention to the two remaining primes held in Hawaii next month, in what he believes is the best position heading into the home stretch of his QS career.
Christie will prepare for the events at a smaller QS contest at Sunset Beach in Oahu later this month, before heading to Haleiwa in mid-November then back to Sunset Beach to finish the year.
"I've got all my Hawaii boards already, so I'm just going to be getting on those and getting familiar with them."
While Christie now has a few weeks off to prepare for his next event, fellow Kiwi Paige Hareb will return to action on the Women's CT in France this week when the season gets back underway. Hareb will enter the contest on the back of an impressive silver medal campaign at the International Surfing Association world games in Japan last month.
While she'll be looking to see that form continue, the remaining CT events of the year won't help the 28-year-old's hope of returning next season. With her return to the CT after three years away, Hareb has struggled for results to come her way.
However, like Christie, Hareb is set up for a big finish on the QS, with just one major contest remaining on the women's series, which will be held in Australia in early November.