World No.2 Julian Wilson said he was nervous but he showed no signs of it as he cruised through his first competition heat since the Pipe Masters final, dominating in round two at Surfest on Wednesday at Merewether.
The 30-year-old was the star attraction on day three as the Burton Automotive Pro started the round of 96 after conditions improved with a southerly change following two days of small waves at Dixon Park Beach.
The natural-footer locked in a 5.5 early with a series of forehand hits before earning a heat-high 7.33 with a long flowing ride right to the beach at the halfway point.
He caught five waves in total and his 12.83 best two-wave total was easily enough to win the four-man, 25-minute heat ahead of Miguel Tudela (8.93), Samuel Pupo (8.67) and Zack McMahon (7.53).
"It was nice out there to get some waves, the last couple of days have been pretty small," Wilson said.
"It's pretty ideal for the competition, I think. It's nice and challenging although it's definitely not perfect.
"It's nice that it's off the rocks here so you have a consistent wave, good right-handers."
It was his first heat since he finished second to Brazilian Gabriel Medina in the world title race and at the Pipe Masters in December.
A 6000-point World Surf League qualifying series event at Merewether is a long way from the thrill of a world title bout but Wilson said he was far from relaxed on Wednesday.
"Never, never a relaxing heat," he said.
"It was good to get the excitement going, and I was nervous and excited."
The Queenslander now lives part-time in Merewether with his wife Ashley and their baby daughter Olivia and he looked right at home on Wednesday.
"I've been visiting the area for the last five years, since I met my wife, and I'm now living here," he said.
"It's nice. Living in Merewether. It's really handy and it's a nice area."
Earlier, another adopted Novocastrian, Sarah Baum, was eliminated in round two of the Holmes Civil Developments Pro women's contest.
The South African finished third after winning her round one heat on Tuesday.
The men's competition was set to stretch into heat 16 of round two on Wednesday.