South Africa's Matthew McGillivray has been confirmed for start of the 2022 Championship Tour. After landing just below the cut line at the end of the 2021 Championship Tour season, McGillivray will receive the WSL Replacement spot for the Billabong Pro Pipeline and Hurley Pro Sunset Beach due to Yago Dora's foot injury and subsequent withdraw from the events.
"I stayed in Hawaii after the last Challenger Series event until just after Christmas," McGillivray told the WSL. "The borders to South Africa were shut due to omicron, so I was waiting to see if they would open. Sure enough, the borders opened up right before New Years, so I came home for two weeks to chill with the family. I head back to Hawaii on January 14th to start training again."
A rookie last season, McGillivray's best result came at the Boost Mobile Margaret River Pro, where he finished third.
"It was surreal to surf on tour in 2021. I was traveling with Morgan Cibilic and Jay Thompson was coaching us," McGillivray explains. "I learned lots about myself and my mindset. There was so much I was working on in my surfing technically and in the way I surfed heats and made decisions under pressure.
"I was so sad when I just missed the cut line for 2022 after Mexico. I had worked so hard to be there on Tour and then that dream slipped through my fingertips, so I'm excited now to have the opportunity to surf more CT events again. It completely turned this year around when I found out the news. I feel like I'm coming into this year a bit wiser and hungrier and I want to apply as much knowledge as I can from last year. I want to make the most of this opportunity."
McGillivray should feel good about his prospects in Hawaii. He finished 9th at last year's Pipe event, falling to eventual winner John John Florence. He also put together a dream run at Sunset when he qualified for the CT back in 2019.
"Hawaii is my favorite place to be, apart from back home," McGillivray says. "I really enjoy the power in the ocean and having big canvasses to work with. Sunset is a wave I really enjoy surfing and it gives me confidence knowing I have done well there in the past. I hope we get some big swells for the event."
In terms of the biggest lesson he learned during his rookie campaign, McGillivray says it's all upstairs.
"I learned a lot about the importance of one's mindset in competition and how much of competing is mental," McGillivray points out. "It's all about making smart decisions under pressure. If you make a mistake you pay for it. But at the end of the day, giving my best effort is all that counts, win or lose."
The waiting period for the Billabong Pro Pipeline gets underway on January 29. Keep it locked right here at WorldSurfLeague.com for the latest news and info as we countdown the start of the 2022 Championship Tour.