Gisborne surfer Ricardo Christie will ride on the elite world surfing circuit next year, after watching a nerve-wracking finals day at the season-ending Pipe Masters in Hawaii.
Alejo Muniz was the only surfer who could overtake Christie, but after knocking American 11-time champion Kelly Slater out of contention earlier, the Brazilian was himself eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Muniz had to win the Pipeline final to keep Christie off what will be renamed the World Surf League next year. Instead, Muniz's hopes ended - as Christie could hardly watch on television back here.
Christie says he was at a kids' surfing event as the drama began to unfold, and only saw the end of what happened on TV, with friends and family.
The 26-year-old Mahia local says he's been dreaming of making the world Tour since he was 10.
Christie joins national legend - and fellow Gisborne surfer - Maz Quinn in the achievement, as the only New Zealanders to qualify for the elite Tour.
Earlier, Gabriel Medina became the first Brazilian man to be crowned world champion, after Australia's Mick Fanning was eliminated.
Medina went on to lose the Pipeline final on the final wave to another Australian, Julian Wilson. Wilson also won surfing's Triple Crown.