SANTA CRUZ, California / USA (Thursday, October 27, 2011) - After going on hold throughout the morning high-tide, the ASP PRIME O'Neill Cold Water Classic California saw an international field donate impressive performances in inconsistent two-to-four foot surf at Steamer Lane made available via the dropping tide to complete nine more heats of Round 1.
Adam Melling (AUS), 26, made the most of his wave-starved heat and unloaded a series of powerful rail-gouges on a clean wall at Steamer Lane to take the event's highest single-wave score of 9.50 out of 10 and secure his advancement into Round 2 despite struggling to find a backup score.
"That's probably the best wave I've had since I've been here," Melling said. "It's good to get it in a heat and it walled up nicely. It sort of stood up nice so you could do your turns. It was good to get that first one because I knew there were always going to be lulls out there, but at the end I couldn't even get a smaller one."
Melling, current No. 36 on the ASP World Ranking, is hungry to post a keeper result at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic California to vault his way back up the elite roster entering the last leg of the 2011 season.
"I'm aiming for a strong finish to the year," Melling said. "The end of the year is always a bit nerve wracking with the shuffling around on the rankings. I'd love to get a win up here. It'd feel good, I haven't had one in awhile and that's the goal."
Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, battled his way back in to his heat after suffering an interference and launched a massive frontside air, to earn 9.30 in the dying minutes of the heat which proved enough for the win despite the setback.
"There was a bit of hassling going on behind the rock and Cory (Arrambide) and I had a little tussle and we pushed each other too deep," Kerr said. "I didn't think he was going to get a wave and he did and I got the interference. Everyone ended up hassling themselves too deep and I got the best wave of the heat in the end so it worked out."
Kai Otton (AUS), 31, locked in to two consecutive set-waves after a long lull in his heat and dismantled the sloping Steamer Lane walls on his backhand during his first surf at the iconic California pointbreak. The talented goofy-footer's efforts saw him snatch the day's highest heat-total of 15.23 (out of 20), to advance through to Round 2.
"It was really, really slow and I was actually frozen by the time I stood up," Otton said. "I was a little bit shaky, but I was just trying to keep moving out the back. Once that set came it was good and I got two waves in one set, which is weird, but that can be typical California, big lulls and big sets, but I got lucky and got two waves. That was pretty much my first surf out there, actually catching a wave from behind the cliff. It was a real learning experience out there."
Jonny Craft (Carmel, CA), 25, equal 5th place finisher in last year's contest, utilized his ample experience at Steamer Lane to find two set waves and detonate two solid scores to take a Round 1 heat victory. The Central-Coast regular-footer topped Nic Muscroft (AUS), 29, local standout Randy Bonds (Santa Cruz, CA), 34, and ASP World Tour rookie Gabe Medina (BRA), 17, who suffered an interference midway through the heat due to an illegal board exchange.
"I was really stoked that I got my first wave right when the horn blew," Craft said. "That kind of started my heat and got my confidence going. Luckily I got that good one at the end, so I'm stoked. I got a 5th place here last year and I'm looking to better that."
Event organizers at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic California will reconvene at 7am local time for a possible 7:30 start. For all of the LIVE action log on to www.oneill.com/cwc.
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC CALIFORNIA ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 13: Jonny Craft (USA) 13.16, Randy Bonds (USA) 9.10, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.23, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 5.42
Heat 14: Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.76, Adam Melling (AUS) 12.37, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 8.83, Yuri Sodre (BRA) 8.50
Heat 15: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.23, Charles Martin (GLP) 14.87, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 10.50, Junior Faria (BRA) 9.00
Heat 16: Stu Kennedy (AUS) 10.33, John Florence (HAW) 10.33, Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.27, Royden Bryson (ZAF) 4.97
Heat 17: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.67, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.36, Romain Cloitre (FRA) 11.17, Chris Waring (USA) 7.20
Heat 18: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.64, Granger Larsen (HAW) 13.86, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 13.50, Adrien Toyon (REU) 8.40
Heat 19: Tonino Benson (HAW) 12.10, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.93, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 8.86, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.50
Heat 20: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.20, Kai Barger (HAW) 12.54, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.23, Cory Arrambide (USA) 10.86
Heat 21: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.70, Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 10.80, Gabe Kling (USA) 8.37, Taylor Knox (USA) 6.86