2019 was a good year for Ryan Callinan as his new freesurfing highlight package shows. The edit by Jack Taylor was shot mainly around his home town of Newcastle and also in Bali.
It showcases all that we love about R-Cal's surfing; the power, progression and spontaneity. Few surfers have his ability both in the air and on rail. Add the creativity to mix the two facets together and you can see why he is labeled one of the most explosive surfers on the planet.
Last year however, we also saw for the first time Callinan transfer that freesurfing talent into the competitive realm. The 27-year-old goofy footer returned to the CT after two-year break and finished the season ranked World No. 14.
Callinan first made the CT back in 2016. His rookie year was affected by the trauma of his father dying early in the season, and also by mistakes in the jersey. Despite flashes of brilliance, unforced errors, both in his surfing and his heat strategy, cost him dearly and he ultimately failed to re-qualify.
Then in 2017, the sudden death of his mother caused him to take some time off Tour and recalibrate. He came back in 2018 and won his first ever event in Japan. He then secured his CT spot with a QS10,000 win in Ericeira and iced the cake with runner-up finish at Quiksilver Pro France surfing as a wildcard.
Last year though Callinan finally showed the competitive consistency that his talent deserved. A third at Bells and Quarterfinals in Margaret River and France meant that he was never within earshot of the relegation zone.
"I was way more consistent than I was two years ago," Callinan told the WSL. "I put myself on the bigger and best waves and it allowed me to open up. All I've ever wanted to do is let my surfing do the talking."
Outside of competition, as this clip illustrates, his surfing was still blowing minds. His humble nature and positivity also gained him new fans and the respect from all his peers.
And crucially, it looks like Callinan isn't about to settle. He and his coach Richard "Dog" Marsh have targeted a Top 10 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard as the bare minimum for 2020 and have been training accordingly.
He has already banked a Final at home in the Surfest Newcastle Pro where he lost by the slimmest of margins possible to Julian Wilson. He then bought that form to the early rounds of the Sydney Surf Pro.
If 2019 was incredible, 2020 could be even better for R-Cal. We'd advise you not to miss a single heat.