- WSL / Damien Poullenot

Last-second heroics. Breathless buzzer beaters. A hail Mary for the win.

Whatever you call it, there's nothing better than a heat that comes down to the wire. It's the space where the magic happens. And in 2021, these were the moments that mattered:

Zeke Lau Changes His Life

Sometimes a buzzer-beater can win a heat. Sometimes it can claim an event. Sometimes it can change a life. That's what happened to Ezekiel Lau in his Round 2 heat of the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira.

"That last wave was crazy," Lau said afterward. "I was looking at my watch with 40 seconds left and needing an 8. Midway through the wave I actually heard my requirement and I thought, ‘Okay if this thing stands up I just need to go to town on it.' I didn't realize how close I was to the rocks, only when I claimed it standing on dry rock."

With a hail mary air onto the basalt, Lau earned the score, and never looked back. He went on to win the event, a result that secured his CT place for 2022.

Buzzer-Beater Sends Ultimate Surfer Into The Round Of 24
Clutch doesn't even start to do justice to Zeke Lau's heroics in Ericeira.

Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore Duke It Out At Margaret River

Any heat between Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore is always going to come spiked with interest and laced with context.

The pair have won 12 of the last 14 World Titles and formed one of surfing's greatest rivalries, albeit it one based on mutual respect and friendship.

In the latest installment at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro presented by Corona, it was Gilmore who notched the latest mark on the wall, scraping a 7.67 in the dying embers of the heat to progress to the Semifinal.

Gilmore Eliminates Rival Moore In Last-Minute Flurry At Main Break
Gilmore claims come from behind win to book a spot in the Semifinals in Margaret River.

Gabe's Ridiculous Rodeo

Gabriel Medina was on the ropes in the early Rounds of the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver againstMichel Bourez.

In the dying seconds and taking off on what looked like a sub-par wave he launched a backside rodeo flip, and landed it, despite seemingly having neither the speed nor the section to do so.

Another half-a-dozen backside reentries then provided a series of exclamation marks to the flip as the sport's best clutch surfer marched on towards the Semifinals.

Medina Rodeo Flip Beats The Buzzer, Keeps Him Atop WSL Final 5 Rankings
In a down-to-the-wire Round of 32 heat against Michel Bourez, the two-time World Champ took to the air to take the win.

You Can't Pin John John Down

John John Florence had done much bigger airs, and he's won more important heats at the death. However, in the early Rounds of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona the Hawaiian provided yet another timely reminder that there is rarely a stage where you can call him beaten.

He took off in the last seconds on a wonky, troubled left, and stomped a backside rotation into the flats. The buzzer was drowned out by the cheers of the crowd and John, yet again, lived to fight another day.

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 19: Two-time WSL Champion John John Florence of Hawaii surfing in Heat 4 of Round 4 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 19, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty I With John John Florence, it's never over until the buzzer sounds - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Luana Silva Goes Gold

In the Final of the MEO Vissla Pro Ericeira, Hawaiian Luana Silva had sat for 20 minutes with a near-perfect 9.80 on the board but struggled to find any opportunity in the lineup for a second good wave.

With time ticking away and only 15 seconds on the clock, and her opponent Gabriel Bryan on the rocks watching, a wave materialized. The 18-year-old, showing zero signs of pressure, dug deep for an 8.23 with a series of power snaps to seal the biggest victory of her young career.

ERICEIRA, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 9 : Gabriela Bryan and Luana Silva of Hawaii finalists of the Meo Vissla Ericeira Pro on October 9, 2021 in Ericeira, Portugal. (Photo by Damien Poullenot/World Surf League) BryanSilva - WSL / Damien Poullenot

Griffin Colapinto Wows The Hometown Crowd

With 20 seconds to play out in the Round of 24 in the US Open of Surfing Huntington Beach presented by Shiseido Griffin Colapinto, the No. 1 seed and overwhelming fan favorite, was in trouble.

Suddenly a wave appeared as if summoned by the packed crowd, and with two outside backhand belts and two inside frontside clicks, Griff nailed the score.

The crowd went wild and Colapinto would use that energy and reprieve wisely. From that point on he never looked like losing a heat going on take one of the biggest, and emotional wins of his career.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA, USA - SEPTEMBER 26: Griffin Colapinto of the USA surfing in the Semifinal of the  US Open of Surfing Huntington Beach presented by Shiseido on September 26, 2021 at Huntington Beach, California, USA. (Photo by Kenny Morris/Wo Griffin Colapinto - WSL / Kenny Morris
World Surf League
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