Angourie surfer Morgan Cibilic, 20, has surfed himself onto the World Surf League’s 2020 Men’s Championship Tour (CT).
The first half of Cibilic’s year on the qualifying series was meandering at best; however, things began to turn around in South Africa where for the first time he had enough points to gain a seeding in a 10,000 point competition.
Despite only finishing 37th in the Ballito Pro he earned 1,000 points towards his end of year total – which equalled the highest number of points he had previously earned for a first place in a 1,000 point competition, the 2018 Mandurah Pro.
A 17th place at the Vans US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California, where he missed progressing to the quarter finals by 0.3 of a point, earned Cibilic 2,200 points.
At the next stop, the ABANCA Galicia Classic Surf Pro in Spain, Cibilic earned 6,500 points for a third, missing out on making the final by 0.44 of a point.
A ninth at EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira in Portugal added 3,700 points to his total, then disaster struck in late October, Cibilic injured his knee.
Walking was a challenge – would he be able to surf on the final Hawaiian leg where two 10,000 point competitions awaited, the Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup of Surfing?
With his knee in a brace, Cibilic placed 25th and 13th respectively, picking up a critical 5,700 points for his trouble.
Going into the quarterfinal of the World Cup, Cibilic would have guaranteed his place on the CT if he finished first or second, however, an interference call relegated him to fourth.
Still, his efforts won him the Vans Triple Crown Rookie of the Year Award.
When the year’s points were added up, Cibilic was rated 11th on the Men’s World Qualifying Series – one place shy of the cut-off (the top 10 qualify for the CT).
It now became a waiting game for Cibilic – his fate was in the hands of two Brazilian surfers, Deivid Silva and Yago Dora, and the outcome of the final CT competition, The Billabong Pipeline Masters.
Before Pipeline, Silva, who held the 10th spot on the QS, was in a position (21st) to requalify for the CT and Dora was in 25th on the CT – three places short of the 22nd he would need to requalify for the CT.
If Silva maintained his double qualification place or Dora (3rd in the QS) placed high enough, Cibilic would take the coveted 10th spot.
At the end of the Pipe Masters, Dora was in 22nd place, Silva was 23rd and Cibilic was safe.
On the beach watching the action unfold at Pipeline it soon became clear that Cibilic had made the cut.
Asked how he felt, a clearly stoked Cibilic said: “I don’t know how I’m feeling; there’s been a lot of anticipation over last few weeks.”
“What are you looking forward to next year?” he was asked.
“I’m looking forward to G-land [in Indonesia]; it’s on at best time of year; I’m stoked.”
“What an accomplishment,” the online announcer says. “Cibilic was just waiting to see what his destiny would be.”
Meanwhile, back in Angourie, his surfboard shaper, Will Webber, was feeling his own form of elation.
Webber has been making Cibilic’s boards since he was 12.
“He’s such an amazing surfer,” says Webber. “I knew he had talent from when he was five-years-old.”
Webber says he saw Cibilic catch a wave a Back Beach Angourie. “I waited for his dad to come in and said to him that Morgan had navigated the wave so well.”
Years later, Webber says his girlfriend reminded him that he had said he “wanted that kid on my boards”.
And, despite a short time surfing another brand after Cibilic moved to Newcastle where he worked in a surf shop, Cibilic “came back”, Webber says, “and said my boards were better.”
Cibilic might be slight of build, but his surfing is powerful – a year of competing against the world’s best in 2020 is a dream come true.