Merewether’s Ryan Callinan has set up a quarter-final showdown with Frenchman Charly Martin in Japan following a strong round-of-16 heat victory on Thursday afternoon (AEST).
The goofy footer, who turns 25 years of age on Sunday, overcame Italian Leonardo Fioravanti by 3.66 points at the 6000-point qualifying series (QS) Ichinomiya Chiba Open.
The 2016 Championship Tour competitor produced rides of 7.6 and 6.83 in the second half of a see-sawing 25-minute battle to advance at the World Surf League (WSL) event.
“I haven’t made this many heats in a long time so it feels really good,” Callinan, who finished fifth at last month’s QS 3000 Pro Santa Cruz in Portugal, told WSL media.
It was a tough start for Callinan, with a few low scores in small conditions and trailing Fioravanti minus priority, but using better wave selection in somewhat familiar surroundings he bounced back and finished the stronger of the two.
He ended up with a two-best wave total of 14.33 compared to Fioravanti’s 10.67.
“I think I just kept picking bad waves,” Callinan said.
“The heat before mine was really action packed and it had a lot of waves. Leo is such a good competitor and I thought he was going to have really big scores so I was trying to put the pressure on early. We’ve been working with the same coach, so it was an interesting heat for both of us.
“The waves here kind of resemble similar waves to what we get during summer at home. I was having a lot of fun out there. It’s peaky and tricky, but really good.”
Callinan said he felt confident with his board.
“He [JS] can’t put a finger wrong,” he said.
“His boards are going amazing. This one is the air 17 and it’s kind of my go-to board for smaller waves. I’m feeling really good and I’m lucky to have some great equipment.”
Callinan also had a message for back home in Newcastle.
“Hello to everyone and thanks for watching and supporting,” he said.
“To my extended family over in Indo, hope you’re all having a good time, and to all my friends and family at home I’m missing you.”
Jason Andre, Seth Moniz, Noe Mar McGonagle, Marco Fernandez, Alejo Muiz and Alex Riberio are the other surfers into the quarters.
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