JBay surfer Matt McGillivray had, on paper, the slightest chance of making it past the Mid Year Cut on the Championship Tour of surfing. He was on the cusp, but he had to do well and beat several higher placed and more experienced surfers.

He was aiming for a semi-final berth at Margaret River, Western Australia. This would equal his best performance ever at a Championship Tour event. He had previously made a semi-final at Margaret’s when they last surfed the event, pre-covid.

The waves were massive for the contest. When the waves get huge, the luck factor plays a more significant part than usual. There are more chances of things going wrong by getting caught inside by a massive set, breaking a board, or choosing the wrong wave. This could result in a lengthy delay in getting back out to the backline. In a 40 minute heat, these delays could mean the difference between winning or losing.

Matthew McGillivray at the Margaret River Pro. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League)

Matt surfed with style and power. He looked very much at ease, with the experience gleaned from surfing at Supertubes for so many years.
Eventually, it came down to one wave. Matt was up against Kanoa Igarashi in the round of 32, and he needed to make the quarters to keep his dream alive. So he took off on a huge wave, and while it wasn’t very glamorous, he threw all he had into it and carved up this monstrous face to hit the lip.He somehow managed to connect with the lip and disappeared amongst a maelstrom of white water. Then, he emerged, got a 6.83 on the scoreboard and won through to the quarterfinals.

Matthew McGillivray of South Africa after surfing in Heat 4 of the Elimination Round at the Margaret River Pro at Margaret River, Australia. (Photo by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League)

By making it, he faced his Rip Curl teammate Sam Pupo. He ended up higher in the rankings than his other teammate Owen Wright by defeating Pupo. That one wave saw Matt into the right side of the cut-off and through to surf in the rest of the events for the year. At the same time, Owen Wright was eliminated and knocked off the elite Championship Tour.

The lineup at the Margaret River Pro. Big surf and big opportunities. (Photo by Aaron Hughes/World Surf League)

This means that Matt is a starter at the Corona Open JBay, but he is first off to the jungles of Java for the G-Land Pro. Good luck, Matt!