SANTA CRUZ, California / USA (Friday, October 28, 2011) - With unfavorable tides on offer at the primary venue of Steamer Lane after Round 1, event officials at the ASP PRIME O'Neill Cold Water Classic opted to relocate to the backup venue of Waddell Creek and the two-to-four foot (1 metre) wedgy peaks proved to be the perfect platform for a high-performance showdown.
For the first time in O'Neill Cold Water Classic history, today's action saw the event relocate three times, completing Round 1 at Steamer Lane before moving to Waddell Creek for Round 2 and finishing the day by diving into Round 3 back at the event's primary venue in improved conditions.
Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, was thrilled regarding the decision to relocate to Waddell Creek for Round 2 and reveled in the beachbreak ramps while putting on an aerial clinic to combo the field en route to his heat win.
"It's nice not to be hassling behind the rock at The Lane and to get a beach break and have your own peak," Kerr said. "There are plenty of chances which suit my game. I'm excited to get back to The Lane again for the man-on-man heats and not have to deal with those four-man heats."
Kerr built momentum throughout his heat before lofting the day's highest single-wave score of a 9.43 (out of 10) while accumulating the highest heat-total of O'Neill Cold Water Classic California competition, 18.36 (out of 20).
"I already had a couple of little scores under my belt and was feeling pretty good so I was trying to do something cool," Kerr said. "I just got that section and flung the rotation and I'm kind of stoked I stuck it. It was kind of a hail Mary where you just throw it out and see what happens."
Miguel Pupo (BRA), 19, put together an impressive Round 2 heat including a 17.10 (out of 20) total score compliments of his patented forehand aerial game at Waddell Creek.
"The heat was pretty good, I was happy to come down here because at The Lane it was pretty hard to surf," Pupo said. "You could see in Jordy (Smith) and Bede's (Durbidge) heat in Round 1, it was gnarly, but there wasn't much surfing going on. I'm happy to come down here and I was lucky."
Pupo, who joined the ASP World Tour at the midyear rotation, is looking to capitalize on the crucial ASP PRIME points on offer at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic to solidify his position among the ASP Top 34 before year's end.
"I want to get a result here because I have a couple dropping before Hawaii," Pupo said. "I want to get some results and hopefully make the cut again and hopefully find my feet on the World Tour."
Pupo went on to defeat Kolohe Andino (San Clemente, CA), 17, in the opening heat of Round 3 at Steamer Lane in the afternoon.
Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, who has been building momentum on the ASP World Title Series, dominated the right-handers on offer at Waddell Creek with quick and powerful tail-drifting turns to advance to Round 3 and is hoping to use the O'Neill Cold Water Classic as the perfect opportunity to acclimatize to the conditions similar to the upcoming event in San Francisco.
"This is a great opportunity to stay sharp for San Francisco," Wilson said. "I've pretty much had the last six months in a row and I don't really have anything I have to go home for. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing and it's been so much fun going to all of the events. I've been learning a lot and I want to prepare myself as much as possible for San Francisco. I'm just getting acclimated to the weather because it's a bit colder than if I were sitting at home."
Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA), 30, 2009 O'Neill Cold Water Champion, was another goofy-footer who lit up the high-tide conditions on offer at Waddell Creek to take his Round 2 heat with committed airs and powerful turns.
"Everyone was getting plenty of waves and there were plenty of opportunities, which was nice," Yeomans said. "I came down right when they made the call and went for a little surf and switched boards. It's just a fun beach break and there are more options and I think at Steamer Lane, when it's small, it really comes down to that one wave or two. Out here everyone caught a bunch of waves and it was more about who was on and who was pushing themselves and I think that's how the scores went down."
Yeomans admittedly struggled at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic over the early years of his career but feels his experience has helped him find a rhythm in Santa Cruz.
"I've always loved it up here, but I swear, when I was a grom I didn't make a heat for five years," Yeomans said. "I thought I was cursed here. Then I had that win two years back and I made the Quarterfinals here last year. It's really a wave-catching contest at the Lane and I think that's why the locals shine. You have to get that wave that allows you to surf it through and you've really got to be on those waves. I've kind of got in a rhythm with it and it's treated me well."
Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 29, got off to a slow start in his heat, but found a rhythm in the end of his Round 2 bout to launch from third to first, eliminating defending O'Neill Cold Water Classic Champion Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 23.
"In the beginning I was kind of lost out there, I didn't know where to sit," Monteiro said. "My first wave was a low score and then I found my better waves. I'm stoked I won that heat because Wilko (Matt Wilkinson) is a top World Tour surfer and I'm happy to beat him. He's last year's champion and I hope I win this year."
Monteiro, who launched back on to the elite ASP World Tour stage with a win last year at the O'Neill World Cup at Sunset Beach, is hungry to back up his ASP World Ranking points at this year's O'Neill Cold Water Classic California in order to maintain his position among the world's best surfers.
"Last year's win for me was a big win for me, probably the biggest of my career," Monteiro said. "It made me feel like I was ready to surf against the big surfers again and allowed me to qualify for the first half of the World Tour year. I'm looking for another big result so I'm on the World Tour for the beginning of next year."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am local time for a possible 7:30 start. For all of the LIVE O'Neill Cold Water Classic California action log on to www.oneill.com/cwc
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND OF 24 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.84 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.67
Heat 2: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 13.70 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 13.10
Heat 3: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 13.56 def. Luke Davis (USA) 10.77
Heat 4: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.23 Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 8.86
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND OF 48 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 17.10, Mason Ho (HAW) 12.30, Richard Christie (NZL) 12.17, Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 7.94
Heat 2: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 16.20, Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.10, Jason Collins (USA) 12.10, Cory Lopez (USA) 11.70
Heat 3: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 15.14, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 13.57, Joel Centeio (HAW) 10.17, Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.13
Heat 4: Raoni MOnteiro (BRA) 13.60, Luke Davis (USA) 12.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.57, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 4.17
Heat 5: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.80, Nat Young (USA) 11.53, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 9.23, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 6.10
Heat 6: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.80, Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.44, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.50, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 7.77
Heat 7: Charles Martin (GLP) 10.26, John John Florence (HAW) 10.10, Jonny Craft (USA) 9.26, Daniel Ross (AUS) 7.53
Heat 8: Adam Melling (AUS) 14.34, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 11.37, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 9.73, Kai Otton (AUS) 8.77
Heat 9: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.26, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.84, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.67, Kai Barger (HAW) 8.50
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS) 18.36, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.63, Granger Larsen (HAW) 12.10, Tonino Benson (HAW) 8.27
Heat 11:Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.94, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.57, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 10.17, Torrey Meister (HAW) 9.47
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.50, Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.00, Yujio Tsuji (JPN) 9.50, Jay Quinn (NZL) 5.80
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND OF 96 RESULTS:
Heat 22: Torrey Meister (HAW) 12.50, Jay Quinn (NZL) 12.20, Brett Simpson (USA) 10.87, Jano Belo (BRA) 3.63
Heat 23: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.83, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 8.17, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 6.04, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 4.50
Heat 24: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.33, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.96, Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 9.43, Blake Thornton (AUS) 6.03