Merewether’s Ryan Callinan claimed his biggest heat win to defeat world No.1 Filipe Toledo and potentially change the championship race at the Quiksilver Pro in France on Thursday (AEDT).
Competing as an injury replacement wildcard, Callinan needed two scores worth a combined 16.6 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the round-three contest after Toledo dropped an event-high nine-point ride.
The 26-year-old goofy-footer rose to the challenge, earning a 7.93 with a three-turn forehand attack to leave him needing a 8.68 to take the lead. With nine minutes and 30 seconds left, Callinan put together four hits on another big right to get the score – an 8.87.
Toledo needed a 7.8 to regain the lead but he had no answer and was eliminated 16.8 to 16.6, giving fellow Brazilian Gabriel Medina the chance to overtake him in the world championship rankings at Culs Nus.
It was a dream result for Callinan, who knocked out Australian world No.5 Owen Wright in round two.
Callinan was a full-time competitor on the World Surf League CT in 2016 and is making his return in France after winning the 10,000-point qualifying series event in Portugal, the Ericeira Pro, two weeks ago. It put him second on the QS rankings, all but securing his CT spot for 2019 and giving him a wildcard start in France.
“I was pretty lost in the moment, to be honest,” Callinan said.
“I kind of just built through the heat and the two waves that came to me just happened to be beautiful open-face waves with no lumps. I mean, it’s amazing out there and it’s so fun.
“We don’t get to surf enough lefts, not that I’m on tour, but just watching, so I’m just stoked to be out there in some lefts against the good guys.”
Callinan was relishing the chance to compete on the elite tour again ahead of a likely return next year.
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“I feel I belong there now,” he said.
“They are big heats and I had a lot of them the year I was on tour and a lot of ones really close like that but they seemed to not go my way. And I don’t know what’s happening this event, it seems to be switching around so it’s great.
“I feel really good, and I’m just happy to be here in the event, and I feel like I’ve got no pressure. I’m just surfing as a wildcard and kind of nothing to lose, but I’m definitely keen to keep performing and keep doing the best I can. I’m definitely excited about the next few rounds.”
Toledo said: “It’s a tough loss but I have a lot of respect for Ryan, he surfed really well. I’ve been on tour for six years but I still make rookie mistakes. That priority mistake cost me the heat.”
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