Ryan Callinan burst back onto the World Surf League championship tour with a dominant upset elimination of Owen Wright at the Quiksilver Pro in France on Wednesday (AEDT).
The 26-year-old from Merewether, a wildcard into the ninth stop on the CT, defeated the world No.5 16.10 to 12.17 in round two and the final heat of the opening day of men’s action.
In his first CT competition since being a full-time tour member in 2016, Callinan posted scores of 7.93 and 8.17 inside the opening eight minutes of the goofy-foot battle with Wright to set up the win.
He showed speed and commitment on his forehand with a floater and a huge finishing turn to earn the 7.93 and backed it up with a five-turn ride for the heat-high score. Wright could manage scores of only 6 and 6.17 to bow out.
It was a massive win for Callinan, who earned a wildcard into the event with his qualifying series victory at the 10,000-point Ericeira Pro in Portugal almost two weeks ago.
The title, coming after a breakthrough 6000-point win in Japan in May, lifted him to second on the QS standings and all but guaranteed his full-time return to the top tour in 2019.
Callinan opened his campaign in France with last spot in in the three-man round-one heat against Brazilians Tomas Hermes and Gabriel Medina.
He started with a 3.5 from a small forehand barrel ride before getting the better or a tube-riding exchange with about 18 minutes remaining.
He caught the last but biggest barrel in a three-way battle on consecutive waves, earning a 6.83, to sit second to Hermes 10.56 to 10.33.
World No.2 Medina then took the lead and pushed Callinan to third in the final five minutes with three powerful snaps for a 6.43 and 11.93 total.
Callinan needed a 5.10 late with priority to go top and progress straight to round three but wiped out in a tube ride with two minutes left.