Dusty Payne's Life on the Bubble

It's hard to forget Dusty Payne's Cinderella story during the 2014 Triple Crown in Hawaii. After falling off Tour, the Maui native launched an impressive campaign that earned him a spot back on the Championship Tour by surfing consistently well in the final two QS events of the season.

Payne's 2014 Dream Run
During the 2014 Triple Crown Payne's glory run began with a win at the Hawaiian Pro. Backing up his performance the Vans World Cup he was able to slide into CT qualification. Payne then struggled to maintain the momentum he had in Hawaii and failed to requalify for 2016.

However, the 2015 Championship Tour season stood in stark contrast for Payne, who struggled to find that same consistency that earned him his place back among the elite. But with a plague of injuries to some of the world's best, Payne is getting a small taste of redemption in 2016.

Payne Back at the Bells Bowl
The Hawaiian standout, and former CT competitor is surfing as an injury replacement at the Rip Curl Pro.

"Before, I would do the QS and those were the easier events and I'd be stressed on the CT," said Payne after his Bells Beach exit. "But now it's the opposite. I'm stressed on the QS and these are the fun ones. It's kind of cool and I get to surf against my heroes. I'm having a good time."

Dusty Payne during Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. Dusty Payne took down Josh Kerr in Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. - WSL / Ed Sloane

Though Payne was subsequently bounced out by last year's event champ, Mick Fanning, in Round 3 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, an admittedly mediocre result, it's still about having a good time.

Dusty Payne winning his Round 2 heat. Dusty Payne at ease at Bells Beach. - WSL / Ed Sloane

"I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain if I do well here," Payne said, "but it's hard when you come up against guys like Mick and he's looking like that. Sucks for myself (laughs). But it was fun, I've had a good time."