Jackson Baker has won titles before, but never has the Merewether 22-year-old reached the last 24 of any World Surf League qualifying series 6000-point event.
Not only has Baker now achieved that feat, he's done it at home.
The natural-footer will find himself in new territory when he meets fellow Australian Jack Robinson and Peru's Miguel Tudela in Friday's fourth round of Surfest.
Baker is also the sole Novocastrian left in the men's draw after Merewether clubmate Ryan Callinan and world No.2 Julian Wilson were eliminated following mixed results for locals on Thursday.
"It's the first time I've ever been through that round," Baker told the Newcastle Herald.
"To make the three-man heat in a six-star and at home is pretty cool.
"They're little things I'm ticking off which is nice.
"I'll just take each heat as it comes. Looking ahead I'd love to get a good result here but I'm just happy to be back surfing again after the ankle injury, which has kept me pretty grounded."
Baker produced when it mattered in his third-round heat, delivering a two-turn combination with six-and-a-half minutes remaining to see him jump from danger in third to safety in second.
There was a fist pump from Baker even before the 5.83 score was announced.
"I get pretty emotional, anywhere around the world but especially here at home," Baker said.
"I get a good, little feeling around here. I feel like my mum is watching over me and I get this rush through my body."
Despite a last-ditch effort from Brazilian Marco Fernandez (10.27), Baker finished top two on 10.5 points. Brazilian Deivid Silva (13.77) won the heat with Australian Jordan Lawler (7.9) fourth.
Earlier in the day, world-tour bound Callinan (10.76) was knocked out after falling agonisingly short in his second-round heat.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Callinan's last-wave score of 6.23 wasn't quite enough to catch Frenchman Charly Quivront (11.3) or Brazilian leader Tomas Hermes (11.97).
"I just didn't really put myself in very good positions so it is what it is," Callinan, who will skip Manly next week before heading to the WSL championship opener on the Gold Coast from April 3, said.
Wilson, who now lives at Merewether, was the biggest casualty on Thursday. Owen Wright, Jack Freestone, Wade Carmichael and Jesse Mendes also bowed out.
In the women's pro, third-round heats started on Thursday with Merewether's Philippa Anderson set to hit the water on Friday.