At the beginning of 2018, Ricardo Christie entertained the idea that this season would be his last on the World Surf League Qualifying series.
After joining the Championship Tour for the 2015 season, the 30-year-old surfer had been unable to repeat the feat in the two years following.
With a family at home and a newborn on the way, Christie knew he had to make 2018 worthwhile.
"I kind of had that thought at the beginning of the year. I've got a family at home and when you're travelling around the world on your own away from your family, it can be pretty tough," he told the Herald.
"I was just like 'yeah this is going to be my last year, I'll give it my all and really enjoy the process' and it kind of lifted a bit of weight off my shoulders because I just really wanted to enjoy it."
Not putting pressure on himself for results and maintaining the mindset of surfing for the joy of it, Christie found his way back to the top, with the best year of his career seeing him finish eighth on the qualifying series to guarantee his spot on the 2019 Championship Tour.
In doing so, he helped to create New Zealand surfing history. With Paige Hareb already confirmed on the women's Tour, 2019 will be the first time there has ever been a Kiwi representative on both sides of the tour at the same time.
Christie, who grew up surfing with Hareb at the various national competitions around New Zealand, said he drew plenty of inspiration from what she was able to achieve in 2018. Like Christie, Hareb had the best season of her professional career claiming her first event win in a decade, helping Team World claim the WSL Founder's Cup, and finishing second at the International Surfing Association World Games.
"I just wanted to feed off that and do the same in my zone," Christie said. "To be on tour with her next year's going to be real cool. There's going to be double the Kiwis at the events because we'll share some events… it'll be like a little Kiwi family out there."
Christie should have somewhat of an easier run of things next year than he did on the 2015 Tour. In finishing eighth on the qualifying series, he ensured he won't go into next season as the tour's lowest seed. In Championship Tour competitions, the lowest seed is usually given the toughest draw – which Christie experienced in his rookie campaign.
However, who he would be matching up against in the water was something he no longer gave much credence to. Instead, he plans to continue to remind himself exactly why he does what he does.
"You get to a stage where you've got to find that reason for why you're doing it, and that's why I started surfing in the first place - because I loved it so much. When I'm at home surfing, I'm just in love with it and that's when my best surfing comes out – when I'm at home with no one else around – so I just tried to take that into the contest scene and it really helped and I'm looking forward to having that same outlook next year."