O’Neill Coldwater Classic Steamer Lane: Day 5

Nat YoungNat Young in red and yellow. Photo: ASP International

It was a cold and misty Santa Cruz day Friday. While the conditions were fitting for the Coldwater Classic, it made it hard to enjoy the free chilled drinks being given away by the Red Bull girls. We saw the last two heats of the round of 96, all of the round of 48 and all of the round of 24. Quite a day.

As this is the culminating event in a yearlong Coldwater Series, this has been the last chance for surfers to have a crack at the Series Title and an extra $50k in their pocket.

Thanks to a semi-final appearance in Canada, Shaun Cansdell sits atop the ratings ahead of Stuart Kennedy, the CWC Tasmania winner. But Cansdell lost his heat in the round of 48, leaving the door wide open for Kennedy.

All Kennedy had to do was make it through two heats and get to the round of 16. This is a bit harder than it sounds. Unfortunately for Stu, he lost his heat in the round of 48 to Damien Hobgood and Alejo Muniz. After the horn Kennedy caught a wave in and unleashed his frustration on a helpless section. I'm sure he was wondering while walking briskly up the cliff to his car what could have been had Hobgood not gotten the 4.33 with time winding down.

Now all that stands between Cansdell and the fifty large is an in-form Dion Atkinson who has to win the entire event to net the cash. If Atkinson can do that he'd really be earning that bonus.

After winning his heat against Jordy Smith Thursday, Nat Young beat two more World Tour surfers on Friday. Young snagged an 8.1 in the dying minutes of his heat with Roy Powers and Brett Simpson giving him the lead and a berth into the round of 16 where he'll surf against Brian Toth. After a second place in Sri Lanka and a quarterfinal appearance at the Oakley Pro Jr. in Bali, Nat's aiming for the top of the podium here in Santa Cruz.

Tothy has been surfing fast and loose with a new, slightly pink hairstyle courtesy of Dave "Nelly" Nelson's little daughter who tagged Toth last night with hair dye while they all watched the Giants game. Saturday morning at 8 a.m. the two goofy footers will face off.

Semi-local Jonny Craft of Carmel has power turned his way from the local trials all the way through to the round of 16. "You can kind of tell the good waves on this lower tide because you can see a bit more of the wall," Craft said. "This is the farthest I've ever made it in the Coldwater so I'm just focusing on the next heat." Every year there seems to be at least one local surprise at this event and this year Craft is filling that role.

Everyone's calling for more rain and fog tomorrow, but the event organizers are talking about wrapping up conditions on Saturday since it's supposed to get even worse on Sunday. Some man-on-man heats to look forward to in the morning are Heat 3 with Hawaiians Granger Larsen and Mason Ho, Heat 5 with youngsters Kolohe Andino and Tonino Benson, and Heat 7 where the Kiwi contingent of Richard Christie and Billy Stairmand will be pitted against each other.

Stay tuned to www.surfingmagazine.com for more news or watch the webcast starting at 8am Saturday morning at www.oneill.com/cwc/california/live/

—Matt Skenazy