After nearly a year of waiting, professional surfer and World Surf League (WSL) rookie Matt McGillivray from JBay finally got a chance to prove himself and surf against the best.
With the elite Championship Tour (CT) cancelled just prior to the first event of Matt’s career on the CT in March, he has been raring to go ever since.
Matt was in Australia, training for the first event of the year in what was to be his opening year on tour when COVID struck, and the event was cancelled.
Eventually, the entire season was cancelled, and Matt was stuck in Australia throughout. Matt spent the time surfing and training, gearing up for when professional surfing would start again.
The restructuring of the tour saw a shift in locations and a change in timing, with the first event of the year, the Billabong Pipe Masters pres. by Hydro Flask, kicking off in Hawaii.
Matt has a solid reputation in Hawaii and excels when the waves get bigger and more powerful. Groomed on the big winter swells of Supertubes in JBay, Matt’s transition to the strong waves of the North Shore was easy.
The opening day of competition saw good surf on the Pipeline reef, and McGillivray, along with fellow South African surfer Jordy Smith, both did well to advance straight through to round 3.
Rip Curl surfer McGillivray faced reigning WSL Champion and Pipe Master, Italo Ferreira (BRA) and event wildcard Miguel Tudela (PER) in Heat 6. Even though McGillivray got the highest scoring wave of the heat (6.83), Ferreira was able to secure a combined score of 10.53 and took the win.
McGillivray’s second-place finish meant he skipped the Elimination Round and moves on to the Round of 32.