Hawaii's Mark Healey (placed 5th), wasn't alone in praising Merello.
"He had that local knowledge and was straight into the biggest and best waves," said Healey. "The conditions really changed throughout the day and he was the best at adapting. I've surfed with Cristian on previous visits here, but outside of Chile, or South America, people probably haven't heard of him.
"But that's how it is with big wave riding, there are going to be people like him that come out of nowhere, so to speak. It's a different way of surfing and you've really got to want it. He definitely wanted it today.
"Some of the waves were really barreling, and it's a point, so it's totally different to what we're usually riding in Hawaii. Plus it's a left, so no excuses for me! I got a couple of tubes early in the day, so it was good."
© Courtesy Quiksilver