Local favourite Ryan Callinan got his hometown campaign off to a flying start by winning his opening round heat of the World Surf League’s Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona.
The talented Novocastrian mastered the small and tricky conditions at Merewether Beach, producing the highest two-wave combination of day one.
Callinan found the best wave of each set and improved every time with his technical backside prowess to post a 15.26 total (out of a possible 20) to progress into the round of 32.
“We get really good crowds around the world who are always so supportive, but when it’s your home crowd there’s something so special about it,” he said.
“These aren’t the waves we have come here for.
“But, it was still really fun and to be back competing and to find some decent scores.
“It’s so good to have these fans here.
“They bring such a good vibe to the event even if the conditions are sub-par.
“I’m really embracing it as it is such a special experience for me.”
Callinan’s fellow locals Morgan Cibilic and wildcards Jackson Baker and Philippa Anderson (AUS) also triumphed on Thursday 1 April and will progress into the third round with solid performances.
Merewether-transplant Julian Wilson will return in the elimination round as he looks to enjoy the same success he did at this beach in 2020 when he won Newcastle Surfest.
Meanwhile, current World No. 1 John John Florence showed he has what it takes when the waves are small, too.
The Hawaiian opted to ride a carbon-fibre constructed board in the tough conditions, which looked to work perfectly as he laid down his trademark rail-carves to post the second-highest two-wave combination of the day.
Florence’s 14.56 (out of a possible 20) sees him move directly into the round of 32 and slates him as a bigger threat than expected when surfing makes its Olympic debut later this year.
“The first heat back is always nerve-racking, but to be honest, I was more nervous a few days ago,” he said.
“Yesterday I had a good warm-up surf and that made me a lot calmer coming into today.
“The small waves make it harder for sure, however my equipment works well in weaker surf like this and small waves are an area I’ve been working on over the past few years.
“It also has a lot to do with coming in with the right mindset.
“I have fun in waves like this because it’s different to what I’m used to which keeps it interesting.”
Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Men’s Seeding round 1 results:
- HEAT 1: Deivid Silva (BRA) 11.10 DEF. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 7.20, Conner Coffin (USA) 4.96
- HEAT 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.00 DEF. Morgan Cibilic (AUS) 10.70, Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.30
- HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) 14.56 DEF. Yago Dora (BRA) 12.73, Mikey Wright (AUS) 12.00
- HEAT 4: Frederico Morais (PRT) 12.27 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.17, Matt Banting (AUS) 10.90
- HEAT 5: Crosby Colapinto (USA) 10.74 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.27, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 8.16
- HEAT 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.23 DEF. Jackson Baker (AUS) 11.50, Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.33
- HEAT 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.84 DEF. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.67, Connor O’Leary (AUS) 8.53
- HEAT 8: Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.84 DEF. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 8.67, Owen Wright (AUS) 8.13
- HEAT 9: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.77 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 10.60, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.53
- HEAT 10: Ryan Callinan (AUS) 15.26 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 12.50, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 8.37
- HEAT 11: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.50 DEF. Jack Freestone (AUS) 9.40, Michel Bourez (FRA) 7.77
- HEAT 12: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.54 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.86, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.84
Rip Curl Newcastle Cup pres. by Corona Men’s elimination round 2 match-ups:
- HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
- HEAT 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)
- HEAT 3: Michel Bourez (FRA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
- HEAT 4: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)