- WSL / Brent Bielmann

If there is a single turn that shows Ethan Ewing's progression from teenage prodigy into full-blown elite performer it's the final turn of the second last wave of this clip, from macking Haleiwa.

The Australian powers through a carve dragging both hands, before releasing the tail and whip-sliding out to completion with total control.

Riding a 6'8" DHD pintail, the one maneuver showed a surfer at the very top of his game. Yet this wasn't a one-off. With a series of immaculately-surfed waves at Haleiwa last month, Ewing made a big statement. John John's turn to barrel combo at the wave may have set the benchmark for rail surfing this North Shore Winter, but Ewing's performances might have been the closest to that very high bar.

It was the latest example of the rapid progression in the 22-year-old's surfing. Ethan burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old when he qualified for the CT in his first year on the QS. Even then his style and technique stood out for being so polished and fully formed. That led to, perhaps unhelpfully, comparisons with the way Andy Irons surfed.

However, his rookie year on the CT was a disappointment as the teenager from Stradbroke Island struggled with the demands of life on tour. He was relegated to the QS at the end of 2017, missed out on a return in 2018, before turning it around and qualifying again in 2019.

The pandemic however has meant we have yet to really see him return to elite competition. A dominant win in last year's Tweed Coast Pro specialty event did show that he was more than ready. Yet in many ways the extended time off may be a blessing in disguise.

TWEED HEADS SOUTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Ethan Ewing of Australia winner of the final of the Tweed Heads Pro on September 14, 2020 in Tweed Heads South, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) Ethan Ewing - WSL / Matt Dunbar

His performances in Hawaii have illustrated that he has added more muscle and power to the impeccable technique in the last 12 months. And five years on from his rookie year, you'd have to imagine he'll bring a lot more competitive maturity when the tour resumes.

For now, we'll just have to settle for Instagram clips of some of the cleanest and most dynamic surfing performed on the North Shore this winter.

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