MEREWETHER’S Ryan Callinan kept his hopes of re-qualifying for the World Surf League championship tour alive with a nail-biting opening heat win at the World Cup at Sunset Beach on Saturday morning (AEDT).
Callinan was third in his four-man, round-two heat needing a 3.23 to progress when he caught a wave with one minute and 30 seconds left in the contest.
He completed three turns in the big, bumpy conditions to earn a 4.87, a score that dropped after the siren, to jump into first place with a 9.37 two-wave total.
Callinan is ninth on the qualifying series, where the top 10 earn a 2017 CT spot, and he needs at least two heats wins at the QS season-ending World Cup to build on his overall total and potentially keep the chasers at bay.
“It was a tricky one because I only needed a three,” Callinan said after the heat win.
“It’s kind of an awkward score because it’s not two and it’s not one turn, and you’ve got to perform, but it’s not an eight so you don’t have to go crazy,” Callinan said.
“So I kind of nursed it a little bit but I think I did what I had to do, and I was just hoping they didn’t get waves behind me.
“I was a little bit nervous, and the wind got under my board, so I was like, ‘oh no’, but it’s all good in the end.”
The 24-year-old admitted to be being “pretty nervous and stressed” leading into the contest after a first-heat exit at the Hawaiian Pro.
His 9.37 on Saturday was enough to beat Frenchman Marc Lacomare (8.73) and Hawaiians Elijah Gates (7.73) and Kiron Jabour (6.73).
He faces countrymen Adrian Buchan and Connor O'Leary and Hawaiian Koa Smith in round three.