The Beginning of the End


The Final Leg of the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Series begins in classic conditions at Steamer Lane

By Matt Skenazy

Jordy didn't surf. Neither did Adriano, Tom Curren, or the Pride of the Westside, Nat Young. Well, not in the contest anyway. So why should you care about a day filled with local trials and the first fourteen heats of the round of 128? How do 20 wave sets of eight-foot A-frames rolling through Middle Peak sound? There were also plenty of little runners for loads of air reverses and power gauges. Day one of the Santa Cruz Coldwater Classic 6 star prime was on.

The morning started slow thanks to a 5-foot high tide and inconsistent sets. Bud Freitas and Tyler Smith took the two spots in the local trials, but both bowed out in their first heats in the main event. Smith lost out to a buzzer beater nabbed by Casey Brown. Frietas was put down by Stuart Kennedy and Ricky Whitlock, who tore the Middle Peak lefts to bits while the rest of the competitors tried for the rights reeling down the point.

Gavin Gillette watering the kelp

Gavin Gillette watering the kelp

"I was planning on going on the rights," said Whitlock, "but when I got out there I saw a few good lefts and got some really good ones."

But Big Bad Bud is from Santa Cruz, and we're in Santa Cruz, so everyone on the cliff wanted him to advance. Obviously. Whitlock did too, they're pals, and he tried to block Kennedy on a few, but Kennedy snuck inside and got the score he needed in the dying minutes to move on and knock out Bud.

"I'm just trying to take it one heat at a time," said Whitlock. Aren't we all.

The hopes of one of the local boys taking home the title for a second year in a row now rest on Young, Kieran Horn, Ratboy, and Noi Kaulukukui. But the contest is only in its infantile stages, too early to predict how puberty, or the rest of the week, will unfold.

The day moved on. The tide dropped. The round of 128 almost finished. The sun shined. A whale kicked it out the back. Things were good. Tomorrow's another day, and maybe Jordy will surf for us then.

Stay tuned to or watch it live tomorrow starting at 7:30am here.

Day One Video Highlights from Santa Cruz