After failing to make the cut at the end of the 2021 Championship Tour, South Africa’s Matthew McGillivray has been blessed at the expense of Yoga Dora’s foot injury by receiving the World Surf League (WSL) replacement spot for the start of the Championship Tour Season.
“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 Year’s, so I came home for two weeks to chill with the family. I head back to Hawaii on January 14th to start training again.”
Competing as a rookie last season, McGillivray displayed some of his best surfing at the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia, where he finished third.
“It was surreal to surf on tour in 2021. I was travelling with Morgan Cibilic and Jay Thompson was coaching us,” explained McGillivray. "I learnt a lot 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,” continued McGillivray.
“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.”
The 24-year-old should feel positive about his prospects heading to Hawaii. Last year, he finished ninth at the Banzai Pipeline event at Oahu's North Shore in Hawaii, failing to compete with the renowned winner John John Florence. The South African also put together a dream run at Sunset Beach, Oahu when he qualified for the Championship Tour in 2019.
“Hawaii is my favourite place to be, apart from back home," said the Jeffreys Bay, Eastern Cape resident. “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.”
When asked about the biggest lesson he learnt during his rookie campaign, McGillivray said that it was all upstairs.
“I learned a lot about the importance of one's mindset in competition and how much of competing is mental
“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.”