The 2014 O'Neill Coldwater Classic Invitational was called ON today in clean 2-4ft conditions at the world famous right point-break at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California. Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 were all completed today in their entirety, setting the stage for the champion to be crowned on the Final day tomorrow.
The highly coveted ASP Specialty Event offers 16 unsponsored surfers the rare chance at a $50,000 O'neill sponsorship to further pursue competition on the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), in hopes to qualify for the elite World Championship Tour. With such a huge opportunity at stake, competitors were putting it all on the line on the first day of competition.
The standout surfer of the day was past O'Neill Coldwater Classic Champion Nate Yeomans (USA) displaying his rhythmic backhand surfing and powerful flow. The San Clemente local looked to only be building momentum throughout the day; and even after a close Round 1 loss, Yeomans put on a dominant display in Round 2 and continued his form in the final heat of the day in Round 3.
â€œIt's such a cool opportunity surfing in this event, and the fact that O'neill is doing this is so cool. I made the (World Championship) Tour once before, but It was only for half of the season, so to have some extra support for next year, I would love to make it there again and surf a full season.â€ Said Nate, â€œMy board is feeling really good and I'm just trying to have fun with everything.â€
Local standout Shaun Burns (USA) came out of the gates strong today, winning his Round 1 heat, which advanced him straight to Round 3, where he also won his heat. The native Santa Cruz surfer put his local knowledge to work and demonstrated superior familiarity with the right-hand point. Burns is the only Santa Cruz local in this year's draw and has high hopes to clinch a victory in his hometown.
â€œThis event has always meant a lot to me.â€ Said Burns, â€œI grew up here in Santa Cruz and I've watched the Coldwater Classic year after year with all of the local guys who have killed it, and winning would mean a lot. I'm just honored to even be in the event, surfing in front of my hometown definitely calms the nerves and I've got my friends and family here to root me on.â€
Jason Torres (CRI), the winner of the wildcard video competition, showed he was ready to take full advantage of his entry into the contest with heat wins in both Round 2 and Round 3, putting him into the Quarterfinals. The Costa Rican's video submission that earned him his spot into the event was full of big airs and above-the-lip surfing, but today Torres displayed the fact that his smooth and technical rail game could also win heats.
â€œI won the wildcard submission with the support of everyone in Costa Rica, the country is pretty small and we take care of each other. Once I posted the video everyone just started voting for me.â€ Explained Torres, â€œThis is my first time to Santa Cruz and I'm so happy to be competing here and I'm stoked to have won my heats. I am just focused and looking forward to the next round.â€
Another one of the day's standout performances came from Byron Bay's Garrett Parkes (AUS) who took home one of the day's highest wave scores in his Round 1 heat with a near-perfect 9.60, contributing to what was also the day's highest heat total at 18.77 points. The Australian looked light and loose all day and will be one to watch in the Quarterfinals.
â€œI was super stoked to get the invite and it's such a cool prize if you win it. That support, financially and just mentally could really change your whole mindset,â€ said Parkes. â€œI had one of the best heats I've had in a while this morning in Round 1, and it felt good to put a couple solid waves together. I've been here to Santa Cruz only once before, but this is actually my first time surfing The Lane, and I'm really enjoying it, it's a really fun wave.â€
The 2014 O'Neill Coldwater Classic Invitational an ASP Specialty Event will run on Wednesday, October 29th and Thursday, October 30th and will be webcast LIVE at www.oneill.com/cwc.