Having qualified for round two without the need for a repêchage appearance, Evans was lying in fourth with around three minutes of his heat remaining, but he did enough on his penultimate wave to jump up to second position and secure safe passage into the last-64.
His late score of 4.17, for a combined total of 7.84, was enough to edge out Danish rider Christoffer Hartkopp by just 0.07 points. Portuguese contender Pedro Henrique eased to victory with a score of 12.53.
Alex Vibert was unlucky not to progress after a five-hour delay due to poor surfing conditions – finishing fourth in his heat despite achieving a two-wave score of 9.24.
Matt Chapman – like Vibert a qualifier via the repêchage – is expected to re-enter the water today for his second round heat.