In an effort to shine the light on surfing's talented-but-unsponsored masses, O'Neill is implementing a new format for their upcoming Coldwater Classic event. Running from November 6-10, Santa Cruz's Steamer Lane will host 16 surfers (10 will be invited, four "open" spots will be voted on by fans online, and there will be two wildcards) in a specialty event where the winner will take home a year's sponsorship from O'Neill valued at $50,000.
Here's the kicker: If you've got a major clothing or wetsuit sticker on your board, or if you're already on the World Tour, you need not enter. And those four "open" spots, they're up for grabs to the public. All you need is a headshot, some footage of you tearing the living hell out of some unsuspecting lineup, and an Internet connection to submit your application. Entries will be accepted via the event's site until September 18.
On September 20, all of the online entries will be whittled down to eight finalists. Of those eight finalists, the remaining four spots will be determined by the public in an online vote that will end on September 27. With the event's roster squared away, the actual comp itself will run as a single-day contest during the event's five-day holding period, which runs from November 6-10.
In addition to taking home the Coldwater Classic hardware and the $50,000 sponsorship, the winner will be funded to compete in at least seven 'QS events and issued a personal videographer to produce six video segments throughout the 2014 season.
Along with the 16 competitors seeded in the Coldwater event, there will also be a contest for the groms, the Ratboy Rampage, composed of 80 under-18 locals.
"O'Neill is extremely excited to be supporting athletes who may be considered underdogs. Helping surfers who've paid their dues chase the dream of qualifying is good for our sport," said O'Neill’s Brian Kilpatrick.
For surfers like Granger Larsen, who are chasing the tour with limited funding and no major sponsor, the new format for the Coldwater Classic couldn’t come at a better time. “I think it’s such a cool idea for non-sponsored guys; it gives us a opportunity to chase our dreams without the stress of running out of money during the season.”