SANTA CRUZ, California/USA (Wednesday, October 26, 2011) - The opening day of the 2011 ASP PRIME O'Neill Cold Water Classic California saw the completion of the first half of Round 1 at the iconic Santa Cruz pointbreak of Steamer Lane in two-to-four foot waves and saw striking performances from both elite ASP World Tour surfers and the sport's most promising up-and-comers.
Kolohe Andino (San Clemente, CA), 17, opened his account in dominating form, unloading his instinctively progressive repertoire at Steamer Lane to stamp the day's highest heat-total of 16.63 (out of 20) in an action packed heat.
"That heat was probably at the ideal time for the waves and everyone caught a bunch of waves so it was cool," Andino said. "My waves were smaller, but they allowed one big maneuver and had one big section. I'm stoked that the tide was not too low and not too high in my heat."
Andino, who moved to No. 28 on the ASP World Ranking with back-to-back victories in Brazil earlier this month, remained humble regarding his chances of joining the ASP World Tour for 2012 and is taking the O'Neill Cold Water Classic California with a relaxed approach.
"I'm not trying to think about how well I did in Brazil or what I have to do to qualify, I'm just out there to have fun right now," Andino said. "Obviously the confidence is there, but I'm not thriving on it and am just taking it one heat at a time. My boards feel great and I'm excited for the next round."
Andino is another Southern Californian who enjoys a trip up the coast to take in the brisk Santa Cruz air and the challenges that come along with navigating the Steamer Lane lineup.
"I've told lots of people that if I ever moved out of San Clemente that I'd move up here because there are so many good waves and I love the cold crisp air," Andino said. "A lot of people complain that The Lane is hard to surf, but that's kind of what makes it so fun. I'm stoked to be here and it's one of my favorite events of the year."
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 23, defending O'Neill Cold Water Classic Champion, got the best of a slow heat, notching his two best waves of 6.67 and 8.67 (the day's highest single-wave score) in the last five minutes of his Round 1 bout with a series of vicious backhand blasts.
"There was a bigger set wave to start, but it went wide and was bad," Wilkinson said. "Then it went flat for so long. I don't really know what happened, it was just a lully heat and I was kind of nervous with my ankle, I hurt it a few days ago and hadn't surfed yet."
Wilkinson's opening heat win came as a relief, as the progressive Australian knows a banner performance at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic California is necessary in maintaining his position on the ASP World Rankings after last year's victory.
"It feels good to get that first heat out of the way," Wilkinson said. "I hadn't surfed out there since I was here last year and I was kind of nervous with the pressure and there's real pressure now because if I don't do well in this event I lose 6,500 points. There's also the confidence, because I know I can win here, so I guess there is as much pressure as confidence."
Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 20, utilized his familiarity of Steamer Lane and controlled his Round 1 matchup throughout the heat's entirety. The local talent jumped out to an early lead, belting a 7.50 (out of 10) and quickly followed up with a 7.77 to take his Round 1 victory.
"I was really nervous and kind of hassling a lot out there," Young said. "I really didn't think I got a 7.5 on my first wave, but I'll take it, it was nice to start off with that and then I got one more. The waves were actually alright for the heat, so it was fun."
Young's Round 1 victory helped him shake the pressure that came along with competing in front of his hometown crowd and admitted the low-tide conditions on offer made for tough competition.
"I was nervous for sure and it felt good to get that one out of the way," Young said. "I surf out here more than anyone and that's nice. I know which waves I want and the heat was a little tough because it's low tide and we're all hassling each other and pushing each other out of position."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am local time for a possible 7:30 start.
To watch the O'Neill Cold Water Classic California LIVE log on to www.oneill.com/cwc
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Mason Ho (HAW) 12.53, Jason Collins (USA) 12.10, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.87, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.03
Heat 2: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.37, Cory Lopez (USA) 9.20, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 7.24, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 4.83
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.63, Richard Christie (NZL) 13.90, Michael Dunphy (USA) 9.93, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 9.06
Heat 4: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.90, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.23, Adam Robertson (AUS) 12.07, Sunny Garcia (AUS) 11.87
Heat 5: Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 13.10, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.77, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.86, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 9.37
Heat 6: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.94, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 12.50, Austin Ware (USA) 11.33, Tim Reyes (USA) 10.90
Heat 7: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.34, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.80, Brian Toth (PRI) 7.17, Roy Powers (HAW) 7.16
Heat 8: Luke Davis (USA) 15.37, Joel Centeio (HAW) 10.60, Alain Riou (PYF) 8.03, Nicholas Squires (AUS) 7.40
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) 15.27, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.30, Heath Joske (AUS) 12.24, Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 7.17
Heat 10: Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.67, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 13.84, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.73, Dale Staples (ZAF) 8.47
Heat 11: Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.50, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 11.07, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.77, Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) 6.66
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.47, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 13.10, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.86, Matt Myers (USA) 9.90