Sebastian Zietz was the latest episode of an unpredictable season on the World Surf League this season, going from injury replacement to winner of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.
Zietz learned of his 2016 fate in December of last year at the Billabong Pipeline Masters. He would not re-qualify for the WSL Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. Instead, he would have to spend the year on the Qualifying Series and hope to get back on tour in 2017. But numerous injuries have allowed the Kauai surfer to compete in the first three events of the 'CT season. A ninth-place finish on the Gold Coast, followed by a 13th at Bells Beach. Zietz had never advanced past the quarterfinals in his 'CT career, but a late win over Julian Wilson gave him his first career win.
"Falling off tour was really hard and made me feel like a kook," Zietz said afterwards. "To get the call up to the comps, I just feel lucky to be here."
Zietz may feel lucky, but he made the most of his second chance. Now he sits as the second-ranked surfer in the world behind ratings leader Matt Wilkinson, in the thick of a world title chase.
"No real goals," Zietz joked. "Aim low, achieve high."
No need for the 'QS anymore, Zietz can set his sights on Rio de Janeiro for the Oi Rio Pro next month.
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