Rookie Ryan Callinan breaks through for emotional debut win
Despite the passing of his father less than a month before his World Tour debut, Newcastle rookie Ryan Callinan surfed a near perfect heat against tour veteran and hype machine, Jordy Smith. Ryan opened with a powerful run of backhand blasts, plus a bonus double-up section on the inside, for a 7.67, before controlling the […]
Despite the passing of his father less than a month before his World Tour debut, Newcastle rookie Ryan Callinan surfed a near perfect heat against tour veteran and hype machine, Jordy Smith.
Ryan opened with a powerful run of backhand blasts, plus a bonus double-up section on the inside, for a 7.67, before controlling the priority expertly throughout.
“It feels amazing – it feels a bit more like I belong now instead of just wandering around the competitor’s area just being there,” he laughed after the win.
It was a Jordy Smith with something to prove that turned up against Ryan. The big money South-African combo king spent most of 2015 laid up with injury and the pressure only increased following the release of a wild freesurfing edit, showing Jordy destroying a Mozambique pointbreak with an eerie resemblance to Snapper. The WSL commentary team ensured all the hype was on the South African in the lead up to the heat, running long promo spiels and hyping up his talent. Ryan used the pressure expertly.
“I was going in saying I need at least two sevens,” he said. “I almost wanted to put a bit of pressure on him too, because I think pressure can help in my favour in some ways.”
After opening with 7.67, he turned the screws on with seven remaining, dropping an 8.07 for a well-placed blast and a series of follow up belts. The South African had no answer.
“I was gonna try and keep be pretty busy for the start of the heat til I built up some scores,” said Ryan. “Then once I got a really good one, I was patient and waited for the best one, which actually came a bit earlier than I thought, which gave me more time to be patient and pick the wave I wanted and just surf it as well as I could and try and get big scores.”
It’s been an emotional past month for Ryan following the passing of his father, Gary. The tightknit Newcastle surfing community closed ranks following his passing. The likes of four time world champion and Merewether local, Mark Richards, and many others, put their support behind Ryan in the lead up to his 2016 World Tour debut.
“MR came around and had a few chats with me and stuff and told me you need to be a bit of a mongrel (on Tour), you really need to want it. Luke Egan texted me and said if you need any help I’m here for you. He’s lived here for 18 years so that was really nice of him.
“Craig Anderson is one of my best friends… (Former World Tour surfer, Matt) Hoyo is always around, I see him a lot. (Former World Tour surfers) Mick Lowe and (Richard) Dog marsh are in my corner. They’re not from Newcastle but yeah, they’re part of my team. It’s good to have all those old school guys who’ve done really well in the past to be helping you.”
There was also a huge Merewether boardriders club contingent on hand at Snapper to support their boy.
“There’s probably 100 people up here from Newy at the moment with my name and number on the back of their shirts,” said Ryan. “I had a bunch of groms meet me at the water’s edge from there. Everyone has been super supportive and over the top to go out of their way and help me. It’s really nice to have that kind of community behind me.”
Ryan also spoke of the inspiration he received from a speech given by reigning world champ and Sao Paulo favela survivor, Adriano De Souza, at the recent ASP banquet.
“He basically said, if I can win a world title anyone can, so just go out there and do your best,” remembers Ryan. “Anyone can win. That put a little bit of fire in me, like, yeah, why can’t I win heats? I guess I had a bit of confidence but after that it was like, yeah, what’s the difference between me and the Jordy Smiths? We’re both good surfers and both good enough to be on tour. Why can’t I take him down?”
Ryan was joined by fellow rookie Conner Coffin in round three, after the Californian edged out experienced tourer Kai Otton, while Narrabeen’s Davey Cathels was narrowly eliminated by John John Florence in round two.
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