Beware the hungry wildcard, for he is ready to pounce at any possible moment. Thus was the scene today in France, where Australian wildcard Ryan Callinan went blow for blow with one of the most explosive surfers on the planet, taking down Filipe Toledo in a high-scoring heat. Callinan received the wildcard as the highest ranked CT surfer. And he obviously seized the opportunity (click to the 30 minute mark, above, to watch the heat, and check out Callinan’s wicked layback tailthrow).
Callinan took down Owen Wright in Round Two. He spent all of 2016 on the CT before falling off and working to requalify.
“I was pretty lost in the moment, to be honest,” Callinan said. “I just built through the heat and the two waves that came to me just happened to be beautiful waves with no lumps. It’s amazing out there. I feel like I belong there now. When I was on tour, I had a lot of big heats like that were close but never seemed to go my way. It seems to be switching around in this event so it’s great!”
Toledo posted a 9.0 and 7.6 backup, and it looked as though the Brazillian was in the driver’s seat. But Callinan came storming back with a gutsy 7.93 and an 8.87 to steal the win in the highest scoring heat of the day. Gabriel Medina did his part, taking down Wiggolly Dantas. Medina still needs to advance through the draw to take over the yellow leader’s jersey. As Round 3 continues tomorrow.
With Culs Nus at six feet and “relatively” clean, Connor Coffin and Jordy Smith also advanced, as did Matty Wilkinson, who, after two years of being in the middle of the world title hunt, is simply looking to requalify this year.