Ryan Callinan is a 30-year-old goofy footer, O & E team rider, and current World No.10 described by Tyler Wright as “one of the nicest humans you’ll ever meet.” We caught up with Ryan at his home in Merewether a few days after he had just returned from the Jeffreys Bay Open. Despite his wife Nina having cooked a homemade shepherd's pie, R-Cal sat down to talk about his year so far, the Olympics and why 2023 has been the best year of his career so far.
Hi Ryan, with one event remaining on the CT, you had a chance of Olympic qualification for Paris 2024? Was that a priority for the year?
Look, it wasn't a massive priority, but I had an eye on it. The original goal was to get in the top 10 and push as high up the CT rankings as I could. However, Jack and Ethan both got off to an incredible start and took an early lead. Jack won at Pipe and Ethan at Bells, so Olympic qualification sort of receded from view. I was stoked just to have been in with a shot in Tahiti.
But even without the Olympics, you’ve had a great year, right?
Absolutely, it’s been my best year on tour. I feel I’m surfing the best I’ve ever done in my career, and I’m far more experienced which helps on the competitive side.
Any reasons why it’s all come together?
There are a lot of factors that have helped with the success. One is that I’ve felt pretty happy this year. I've been working with my coach Dog Marsh as usual but have been travelling with Conor O’Leary. He’s a goofy which helps and has such a positive outlook on life. We’ve pushed each other in the water too. I’ve also been injury-free, so having that clean slate has been awesome. Finally, maybe falling off the CT last year has helped me with my perspective. I discovered it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that could happen and that freed me up to do my best surfing. And if it didn’t work out, well, that was fine too.
Sounds, like life seems pretty good.
I was thinking at the end of last year I was the happiest I’d ever been. I’d requalified, I was home, married and content. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction. And touch wood, that seems to have carried on.
So after Teahupo’o, you effectively have six months off. What are the plans for the rest of the year?
We get some great waves on tour, but the schedule is pretty tight and the swell windows tend to be short. So, the aim is to chase some swells, get some footage and go left a bunch, because it seems all we do is go right. The aim is to reset, get better at surfing and have a lot of fun in the process. You know I say all this, and I’ll probably end up spending five and half months at home, and do a trip up to Boomerang (laughs).
Well, good luck and enjoy that dinner.
The smell from that oven has been torturing me! And I'd like to say a quick thanks to the O & E team for the support, the boardbags and the leggies. I couldn't do it without you.
Interview by Ben Mondy
Images by Bosko
Clip shot by Beren Hall
Music by 'Light to Dark' by Takaicardia