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Locals chasing Surfest double

Ryan Callinan after winning his heat on Friday at Merewether. Picture: Simone De PeakRYAN Callinan and Philippa Anderson are still in the hunt fora fairytale home-town double this weekend after conquering tricky conditions at Surfest on Friday.
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Callinan, who has traditionally struggled on his home break, dominated his round-of-24heat with wave scores of 8.83 and 8.10 against Americans Patrick Gudauskas (14.93 total) and Ian Crane (9.07).

The goofy-footer, surfing his first event since qualifying for the Championship Tour late last year, is trying to become Newcastle’s first Surfest male champion.

Victory at Merewether on Sunday would complete an emotional week for Callinan after the death of his father, Garry, last Friday.

He will start his rookie year on the CT next month at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast, but, for 24-year-old Anderson,winning this weekend’s 6000-point Qualifying Series contest would be invaluable as she begins her 2016 QS season in search of an elusive spot on the elite women’s tour.

To do soshe may have to negotiate testing conditions after a strong southerly swept across the contest zone early on Friday.

Anderson (11.70) finished second in her heat behind fourth seed Nikki Van Dijk (15.43) but was relieved to progress to a round-of-16two-person heat against in-form Frenchwoman Johanne Defay on Saturday.

She told the Herald she had been inspired by Callinan’s performances this week.

“Just seeing him go out there, it’s really fired me up,” she said. “And I just feel really confident that with our local knowledge we’re going to get through a heat.”

Surfest organisers are hopefulthe wind will easeand a predicted three-metre swell will arriveon Saturday.

Merewether surfer Jesse Adam was eliminated on Friday after finishing third in his heat in some of the worst conditions of the day.

“It was super hard,” he said. “I don’t think I was ever in the right position the entire heat.

“There wasn’t really a right or wrong spot to sit. It was kind of just a free-for-all.”

Adam said Callinan, who faces Brazil’sHizunome​ Bettero in the round of 16, was“looking like one of the sharpest guys in the water”.

Top seed Matt Wilkinson will face Uruguay’s Marco Giorgi in the round of 16, andMatt Banting will meet Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam.

Van Dijk will face Avoca’sMacy Callaghan, top seed Sally Fitzgibbons meets Hawaiian Alana Blanchard, Stephanie Gilmore faces fellow Australian Holly Wawn and Hawaiian second seed Tatiana Watson-Webb meets Australian Isabella Nichols.

The conditions improved on Friday after Adam’s heatand the swell built up to 1.5 metres, but he was left to rue his elimination after frantically trying to find the right position to nail the5.25 wave score he needed.

“I’ve been watching really good waves, clean fun off the rocks, typical Merewether waves, all week, and then get to my second heat and it goes to pretty much the worst conditions you can possibly ask for,” Adam said.

“It’s frustrating to go out like thatneeding such a small score instead of letting good surfing do the talking, but that’s the nature of the beast.

“I didn’t really get onegood wave the whole time, and I had to turn really average waves into scores.I nearly got there.”

The eyes of the surfing world turned on Friday to Waimea Bay in Hawaii, where local John John Florence won the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational in waves up to 20m.

“They’re getting some of the best waves,” Adam said. “Not that that would be ideal conditions for a QS 6000 –it would be pretty intense – but somewhere in between the two would be really nice.

“It looks like maybe tomorrow we could get some really good waves.”

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