SANTA CRUZ, California/USA (Friday, October 26, 2012) - O'Neill announced it has awarded one of its two wildcards to local Santa Cruz standout Jason "Ratboy" Collins, and will host a trial beginning at 8 am on October 31 to select the second and final wildcard for the 2012 O'Neill Coldwater Classic. Both wildcards will meet the world's best surfers in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Championship Tour (WCT) event, November 1-11, at Santa Cruz's Steamer Lane. A press conference with top ASP WCT surfers Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence and Mick Fanning will be held at 11am on October 31 during a break in the trial.
"I'm super excited to get the wildcard. I knew there were a few people up for it," said Collins. "It's pretty cool for a local to get the opportunity to go out and surf against talent like Slater and Parko, guys you've looked up to. It's also cool to see the event get upgraded, like it used to be. We used to get guys like Martin Potter, Tom Curren, everybody would come up here. But it's been quite a few years."
On October 31, the day before the holding period begins, 12 invited surfers will compete for a second wildcard into the 36-man field of the main event. Invited athletes include several Santa Cruz locals Nat Young, Bud Freitas, Noi Kaulukukui, Adam Replogle, Josh Mulcoy, Randy Bonds, Shaun Burns, Josh Loya and Jimmy Herrick, as well as, Johny Craft (Carmel, CA), Cory Lopez (Indian Rocks, FL) and Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach, CA).
Over the years, locals have played a major role in the O'Neill Coldwater Classic legacy, most notably in 2008 when Nat Young clinched the title at just 17 years of age. Young will be one of the favorites hoping to qualify through the trial to compete amongst the elite ASP Top 34 and show his prowess at "The Lane".
"It's pretty crazy to have a World Tour event at The Lane. Not only the fact that it's a 'CT, but also the fact that there is a good possibility someone could be crowned World Champ here! I'm really excited to see the whole set up and the difference from the past few years," said Young. "I'm excited to see guys like Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Taj Burrow, and Joel Parkinson surf The Lane. I have never seen them surf out here and it will be exciting to see what they do."
Other locals who have claimed wins at Steamer Lane include Peter Mel (1997), Adam Replogle (2002), and Kieran Horn (2007).
World Tour talent from around the globe has also been a staple at the event, even during its time as an ASP Star and Prime event. Past winners have included Tom Curren (USA) in 1990, Joel Parkinson (AUS) in 2000, Jordy Smith (ZAF) in 2007, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in 2010, and most recently Miguel Pupo (BRA) in 2011.
The world's best surfers will return to the O'Neill Coldwater Classic from November 1 - 11, 2012. Stay tuned to www.oneill.com/cwc for more information and start the conversation with #oneillcwc.
At 11 am on Wed. Oct. 31, the local trial will go on hold briefly for a press conference with top ranked World Tour competitors including current ASP WCT No. 1 Joel Parkinson, 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater, John John Florence and Mick Fanning.