Stab Magazine | It's Simple: Ryan Callinan Is Too Good Not To Be On Tour

It’s Simple: Ryan Callinan Is Too Good Not To Be On Tour

“He’s just a down to earth bloke who happens to be one of the best surfers in the world.”

cinema // Jun 19, 2018
Words by Jake Embrey
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you disagree with the title? Because you shouldn’t.

We’ve long been strong proponents of the Novocastrian that is Ryan Callinan, but not just for his prowess atop a blade, mostly because the dude is just so damn likeable! 

He’s currently sitting fourth on the QS, just bought a house in his hometown, is heading over to South Africa for the Ballito 10,000 pointer on Thursday and is well aboard the meditative bandwagon which was improved his life, “10 fold”.  

“His surfing in this clip is some of the most fucked up stuff I’ve seen, the dude surfs that good.” Mitch Crews told Stab after seeing the footage during a recent East Coast trip with Ryan. “He’s just a down to earth bloke who happens to be one of the best surfers in the world. He’ll probably decimate the rest of the Q’ey and get back on the tour easily. He’ll smoke me at Ballito too [laughs]”

It ain’t just Crewsy who’s psyched to see Ryan banking QS wins either; Joel Parkinson, Brad Gerlach, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll and Jack Freestone were some of those bestowing social praise.

And Ronnie Blakey couldn’t have put it better, “[Ryan’s] win made the world a happier place”.

It’s no secret that Ryan has endured difficult times recently, tragically and suddenly losing both his parents over the last two years, circumstances which far outweigh falling off the CT back at 2016. And at only 24-years old, it’s inspiring to see Ryan bounce back. 

When Ryan’s latest edit landed in our inbox shortly after his debut QS victory, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tap into his kind and articulate mind to discuss everything from Cloudbreak’s high performance potential, the QS format changes and even the impact meditating had on his life.

Ryan Callinan Fishing Reel

Good luck wiping the smile of Ryan’s dial


Jack Taylor

On Fiji and other trips

Ryan: It was super fun, I’ve only been when the comp was on [at Cloudbreak in 2016] and it was pretty average then.

I feel like Cloudbreak gets pushed to the side too when it’s small but still rippable, it’s a high performance wave at that size.

I’ve done a little Mentawais boat trip, a few Forster runs, but mostly just surfing around home between the QS events.

On his Japanese QS win

That’s been my goal lately, to get a win, I haven’t won anything since a Pro Junior which was six or seven years ago. I’m stoked, it’s felt like a long time coming, so it’s good to finally get one under the belt.

It was actually pretty fun waves up until the final day too – which was abysmal, I wasn’t really expecting it to be fun either, I only packed grovellers as the surf is typically terrible for the event there…(laughs).

That’s where they’re having the Olympics too, so it was cool to see how that’s going to play out there…

On the Olympic venue.

It’s strange they’re holding it in the ocean; one of the Japanese guys over there was saying he doesn’t know how it’ll all work: it’ll be the middle of summer, black sand, super hot, water temperatures just ‘okay’ and there won’t be any waves at all. It sounds horrible…(laughs).

Ryan Callinan WSL Kawana

“It was actually pretty fun waves up until the final day – which was abysmal”. As you might have guessed, this photo is from the finals day.



Getting back into the competitive mindset after falling off tour

I’ve had a lot of personal issues to deal with which took the majority of my attention for a while, but falling off the CT wasn’t really a demotivator for me.

Although it did open up my eyes as to how good you have to be to be on [the CT]. The win definitely put me back into a mindframe where I’m excited to compete.

I have a lot of support back here at home and was positively overwhelmed by all of the supportive messages I received [after the win]. It felt really good when some of my peers and people in surfing were posting and sending me messages afterwards.  

It meant more to me than the win itself.

Thoughts on the QS format shift in 2019

For people who need to work to do the QS, it allows them to save up for the events at the end of the year, and it allows CT guys to have more of an off season, although it will be a little tougher for those 10 dudes who fall off [the tour] and get straight back into it.

It’s a smart move though and I’m intrigued to see how it pans out.

On the positive impacts of meditating

It’s had huge impacts on more than just my surfing.

My quality of life has improved 10-fold since doing it. You’re more open minded, not as closed off, less defensive, more willing to learn and open to different suggestions and opinions.

I feel like I’m more present in the moment and acceptable to change too, just not getting caught up in my emotions as much.

Ryan Cloudbreak reef

Boardies and bathwater are much better than what the East Coast of Aus is coughing up right now.


Jack Taylor

…it’s impacts on surfing

I was meditating a lot in Japan, trying to be really present throughout my heats and in the moment: not thinking about the end result, whether I would win or lose and what the consequences would be afterwards. It seemed to work evidently…(laughs)

[As surfers] we surf, we train, and put all our physical energy into heats, but there’s a whole ‘nother side to it; you have to be in the right mindset. Everyone talks about it, but you have to experiment with different methods and realise what works for you.  

On getting into meditation in the first place

I started reading a few books about it, Tim Ferriss has a really good podcast and his book, ‘Tools of Titans’ is inspiring too. Lots of interviews with world class performers talking about their meditation techniques and how it benefited them. I thought maybe I should give it a go…(laughs)

People always say, “Oh, I’m not good at it” and pass it off real quick, but meditation isn’t really something you can be good at. You just have to try, whether it’s blocking out thoughts, focusing on your breathing or just keeping your mind focused on one thing.

Just stick to it.

At the end of last year I was doing it every day for around 20 minutes, which isn’t long, and found a massive benefit from it.

Ryan Callinan Carve Hero IMG

Oh what we would’ve done to see this carve on an Uluwatu canvas earlier this month.


Jack Taylor

Even Mitch Crews is on the bandwagon!

Mitch: I love meditating, I’m all about it now…(laughs). I’m not doing it all the time, but I’m trying to do it a bit. It helps a lot when you have a lot of shit on your mind, it’s important to slow yourself down.

I’m always faced paced and carrying on, where Ryan slows things down and tries to enjoy the moment more, rather than just trying to rush and get everything done. It’s pretty refreshing to be around someone like that when everyone else around you in the surf industry is constantly freaking out about this and that.

On the storm hitting the east coast right now

Ryan: My backyard looks like a pool…(laughs)

It’s wild and wooly out there, I think I’m locked inside and not surfing.  

Plans for the rest of the year?

Mostly, I’m focused around competing. Now that I have one win I really want another one. The QS schedule isn’t too full on though, so I’m hoping to film for some more projects and put out some more clips too.


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