- WSL / Andrew Nichols

Kolohe Andino and Zoe Benedetto added their names to Santa Cruz, California, and surfing, history with incredible wins at the World Surf League (WSL) O'Neill Cold Water Classic, a North America Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000. Solid, three-to-four foot swell at the iconic Steamer Lane provided moments of suspense and action throughout Finals Day. The Floridian, Benedetto, took on The Lane for the first time and managed beautifully as Andino made his highly-anticipated return in phenomenal fashion over a stacked field of competitors.

Andino Joins Iconic List Of O'Neill Cold Water Classic Winners
The CT veteran turned in clutch performances throughout Finals Day, culminating in a comeback victory over an in-form Taro Watanabe (USA).

The men's Final kicked off with a crucial exchange between Andino and one of North America's top threats, Taro Watanabe (USA), with Watanabe earning the better of it - a 7.93 (out of a possible 10). Watanabe backed up his wave with a 5.17 as Andino's initial 7.17 went without a scoring back up until the dying minutes after a near 20-minute lull gave way to Steamer Lane providing the Championship Tour (CT) veteran a golden opportunity that he capitalized on. Andino's 7.23 pushed him ahead before an epic paddle battle ensued, and took the nod in, as he spun around with priority unleash his world-class forehand one more time for a 7.63.

Watanabe's final effort fell just shy of the requirement as Andino added his name to the iconic Cold Water Classic lineage. (Full interview in video above)

"I love coming here to Santa Cruz, it's such a beautiful place and to win this event and add my name to the long list of gnarly Lane surfers is rad," said Andino. "To have a flurry at the end (of that Final) was really exciting. If Taro (Watanabe) gets to the Tour one day he'll do some damage."

Andino's mounted a critical comeback in the dying minutes against Santa Cruz's own Shaun Burns (USA) during their wave-for-wave Quarterfinal bout before moving into the Semifinals against event standout Ian Crane. The CT veteran unleashed some of his best surfing of the event over Crane, earning a near-perfect 9.70 and 17.77 heat total.

Benedetto Makes History, Claims Win At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The Floridian took control of Finals Day at Steamer Lane with multiple, near-excellent waves and besting Bella Kenworthy (USA) in the Final.

Florida's own, Benedetto, kickstarted her Final with an impressive 7.33, utilizing her powerful forehand attack. The 17-year-old then found an inside gem to unload a two-turn combination on and put the pressure on Bella Kenworthy with a 7.50. The San Clemente competitor, Kenworthy, couldn't find an answer back and headed into the 25-minute mark in search of a scoring ride. Kenworthy was able to break the combination situation, but still needed an excellent 8.76. (Full interview in video above)

"I'm so excited to win here," said Benedetto. "Surfing against one of my best friends, Bella (Kenworthy), was amazing and she pushes my surfing to its best. Thank you so much to the local community here and coming out, it was a really great event."

The Palm City, Florida, competitor had to overcome San Clemente's newest QS talent Mia McLeish before taking on fellow Challenger Series contender Havanna Cabrero where she posted near-excellent scores in both affairs en route to her dominant Final. Now, the 17-year-old prepares for the Challenger Series conclusion on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Taro Watanabe (USA) Taro Watanabe's (USA) form was undeniable, taking down CT standout Griffin Colapinto (USA) on the way to his runner-up result. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

Watanabe's incredible start to Finals Day left spectators in awe as he overpowered CT standout Griffin Colapinto in their Quarterfinal clash, earning an excellent 8.07 in the affair. The 20-year-old then had to overcome Griffin's fellow San Clemente competitor Cole Houshmand in the Semifinals that went down to the final minutes with Watanabe needing a score that he delivered before time expired.

"I'm happy, I got to surf against one of my favorite surfers, Griffin (Colapinto), and got him today," said Watanabe. "That was probably the most excited I've ever been in a heat. Cole (Houshmand) is another great surfer and then Kolohe (Andino) is one of my idols. To surf against him was amazing. There's still a few events left, but to make a Final again feels really good."

Bella Kenworthy (USA) Bella Kenworthy (USA) powered through an event once more with back-to-back runner-up results. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

Women's runner-up, Kenworthy, surged through Finals Day competition once again en route to earning back-to-back QS Finals. The San Clemente competitor charged through the likes of local competitor Maddie Storrer before having to overcome yet another local, one of Santa Cruz's best talents, Autumn Hays. Now, the 15-year-old looks to learn heading into the final events of the 2022/23 season with plenty of momentum.

"I'm excited to get two Finals in a row and surf well," said Kenworthy. "This was a great experience and I'm so happy to get to surf these amazing waves. Getting to surf against Zoe (Benedetto) was insane, and hopefully I get one spot better next time with all the mistakes I'm learning from."

Notable Finishes for Semifinalists Autumn Hays, Havanna Cabrero, Cole Houshmand, and Ian Crane

Autumn Hays performance gave Santa Cruz plenty to cheer about throughout her event run, ending with a Semifinal appearance. Santa Cruz's own buzzer-beating effort fell just shy of the requirement needed to overtake eventual runner-up Kenworthy, after Hays' impressive Quarterfinal showing over Malibu, California's, Talia Swindal.

Puerto Rico's Havanna Cabrero turned in a brilliant event showing, matching her career-best result of a Semifinal, in the cold waters of Santa Cruz after defeating Ella McCaffray in the Quarterfinals.

Cole Houshmand impressive start to Finals Day over reigning North America QS Regional Champion Michael Dunphy couldn't be replicated in his affair against eventual runner-up, Watanabe.

Now, Houshmand, Dunphy, and Cabrero prepare for the epic, Challenger Series conclusion in Haleiwa beginning November 26 - December 7 with some momentum.

Santa Cruz's presence was felt as Ian Crane pushed himself against the town's own Sam Coffey posting an 8.33 to overtake the lead. But, Crane couldn't overcome the powerhouse of eventual winner Andino in his ferocious display.

The North America Qualifying Series will return to action in January of 2023 to continue the 2022/23 season.

Day 3: Marathon Moving Day Determines Finals Day Match Ups

A historic Finals Day awaits at the World Surf League (WSL) O'Neill Cold Water Classic, a North America Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, with men and women vying for respective event wins. Steamer Lane delivered once more with four-to-six foot, occasional plus, conditions pulsing into the iconic cliff line as competition powered through the women's Round of 32, Heats 5 - 8, Round of 16, and the men's Round of 32 and Round of 16 in their entirety. Now, head-to-head Quarterfinals are set when competition resumes.

Bella Kenworthy Goes Excellent At The Lane, O'Neill Cold Water Classic Finals Day Bound
The recent runner-up at the U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro brought that swagger to Steamer Lane and posted an excellent 8.00, after an 8.17 in her Round of 32 debut, in the Round of 16 and is now into Finals Day.

Straight from the East Coast and a runner-up at the U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro, Bella Kenworthy continued to show moments of brilliance. The 15-year-old turned in an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) in her debut, Round of 32, affair before earning another excellent 8.00 in her Round of 16 battle. The San Clemente, California, competitor inches closer to notching her name into the Santa Cruz history books with hopes of back-to-back Finals. (Full interview in video above)

Fellow San Clemente competitor Mia McLeish also earned a big Round of 16 victory alongside Encinitas, California's, Ella McCaffray to join Kenworthy into the Quarterfinals.

Santa Cruz's Own Autumn Hays Delivers For Her Hometown At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
This is Hays' first opportunity to compete at home on the QS and she isn't letting it go to waste with a Finals Day appearance.

But, Southern Californians will have to deal with the arena of Steamer Lane cheering on one of their own, Autumn Hays and Maddie Storrer. Hays' form in both her Round of 32 debut and Round of 16 heat were on point as she built important momentum into Finals Day action. The 23-year-old grew up with this event and the history that comes with it, now she looks to add her name to its iconic record books. (Full interview in video)

Griffin Colapinto Leads World-Class Contingent Alongside Santa Cruz's Own Into Finals Day

Griffin Colapinto Joins The 9-Club, Puts Event On Notice At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The San Clemente, California, star blasted an incredible 17.00 heat total, including a near-perfect 9.17, in his Round of 32 performance before another excellent heat total of a 16.83 in the Round of 16.

California's Championship Tour (CT) elite Griffin Colapinto and Kolohe Andino continued their tear through competition as Colapinto earned a near-perfect 9.17, and 17.00 heat total, in his Round of 32 battle before adding another excellent heat total in the Round of 16 - with fellow San Clemente surfer Cole Houshmand (USA) earning a crucial runner-up. The 24-year-old is relishing every opportunity in the water at the iconic Steam Lane and looks to dismantle the North America QS contingent further. (Full interview in video above)

Right behind Andino in their incredible Round of 16 heat, local surfer Sam Coffey put his name in the mix as one to watch on Finals Day with Santa Cruz supporting him after winning a battle of Santa Cruz's own Nat Young and Shaun Burns.

Free Surf Extraordinaire Ian Crane Brings The Heat, Clinches Quarterfinals At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The San Clemente, California, competitor hasn't spent much time in the jersey the last two years, but reminded everyone what he's capable during moving day at Steamer Lane.

While Ian Crane may not be chasing Challenger Series (CS) qualification, but he continues to show why he's a force to be reckoned with in competition. In a nail-biting, Round of 32 affair against Challenger Series contender Nolan Rapoza, North America threat Skip McCullough, and rising talent Trevor Berry, Crane's last-minute aerial assault earned him runner-up before taking over the Round of 16. Now, he looks to add himself among Santa Cruz folklore with a big result tomorrow. (Full interview in video above)

Another Santa Cruz local, Shaun Burns, earned himself a spot into the Quarterfinals and moves into Finals Day with plenty of steam.

Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. PST for a likely 8:00 a.m. PST start to Finals Day.

Day 2: California's Championship Tour Elite Take Over, Women Deliver Powerful Debuts

The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) O'Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1000 powered back into action as a slight drop in swell, providing two-to-three foot waves, was not an issue for some of North America's top-tier, men's and women's talents. A few world-class names got their highly-anticipated starts in the men's Round of 64, Heats 7 - 16, before the women made their big debuts to complete their respective Round of 40 and Round of 32, Heats 1 - 4, battles.

Kolohe Andino Makes Highly-Anticipated Return To O'Neill Cold Water Classic
Throughout the years, Andino has competed in this event from a Pro Junior all the way to a Championship Tour competition. Now, he's back and posted Day 2's top performance with a 14.50 heat total on the way to the Round of 32.

One of California's long-standing, professional surfers Kolohe Andino has competed at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic since he was a Pro Junior. Now, a Championship Tour (CT) veteran, the 28-year-old returned to Steamer Lane and unleashed the day's top performance of a 16.17 (out of a possible 20) heat total with former Californian CT competitor Brett Simpson right on his heels. Andino's aerial led the way to a 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and relishes the opportunity to compete at this iconic event. (Full interview in video)

Santa Cruz's Local Hero Nat Young Takes Control At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
It's been nearly 10 years since the Championship Tour competitor made his last appearance at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic and he hasn't lost a step as old memories come to heart, and new ones flourish.

Santa Cruz competitors held down their home turf in terrific form with former event winner and CT competitor, Nat Young, leading the charge. This event is close to Young's heart with memories that will last a lifetime and now his baby daughter is able to be in attendance to watch her father accrue a 14.10 heat total on his world-class backhand attack. (Full interview in video)

Fellow Santa Cruz locals Sam Coffey, John Mel, and Shaun Burns all made their way into the Round of 32 with impressive showings as Coffey's 7.10, massive air rotation earned him a debut heat win.

Griffin Colapinto Makes His Long-Awaited O'Neill Cold Water Classic Debut In Dominant Form
The Championship Tour standout made it known he wants a piece of Steamer Lane history with a 7.50 and 14.33 heat total to debut.

Also, CT standout Griffin Colapinto made his first-ever O'Neill Cold Water Classic appearance one to remember with a 14.33 heat total as younger brother, Crosby, Wheeler Hasburgh, Skip McCullough, Nolan Rapoza, Luke Gordon, and former North America Regional QS Champion Kilian Garland all earned big Round of 64 heat wins.

Emma Stone, Kirra Pinkerton Light Up The Lane In Women's Debuts

Emma Stone Steals The Show In Women's Debuts At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The San Francisco competitor dealt a heavy blow in her debut with a 14.44 heat total to kickoff her Steamer Lane campaign.

One of the emerging women talents, Emma Stone, made a massive statement near home with a 14.44 heat total to jumpstart her momentum. The San Francisco, California, competitor hasn't had the success she's hoped for just yet, but now has a golden opportunity to capitalize heading into the mid-year break. (Full interview in video above)

Santa Cruz's own Maddie Storrer notched a brilliant Round of 40 win and now awaits her own Round of 32 match up. But, she will have to deal with the likes of Round of 32 winning Ella McCaffray and more as fellow Santa Cruz competitor Autumn Hays awaits her debut.

Kirra Pinkerton Overpowers Steamer Lane At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The San Clemente competitor is looking to breakout in the 2022/23 season and showed that desire in her debut.

Challenger Series (CS) competitor and one of North America's top competitors, Kirra Pinkerton, nearly didn't make it to Steamer Lane, but left the water happy she did so. San Clemente's own posted a 7.67 to finish off the heat and take the lead with just over five-minutes remaining as she looks for a change of momentum in her 2022/23 season. (Full interview in video above)

Also notching a proper, debut win, Puerto Rico's Havanna Cabrero figured out the tricky lineup and laid into her forehand attack as she looks for her first Finals Day appearance since the Jack's Surfboards Pro.

Event organizers will convene for a 7:30 a.m. PDT call for a likely 8:00 a.m. PDT start to competition. Tune in LIVE when competition is called on at www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

The O'Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1,000 will run November 15 - 19 at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Magic Moments Provide Dream Start

O'Neill Cold Water Classic Highlights Day 1: Near-Perfection, Steamer Lane Turns On
Opening day witnessed Bud Frietas' near-perfect performance, familiar faces Shaun Burns, Jake Davis, and Cold Houshmand light up, plus next generation talents Ryan Huckabee and David Okeefe shine.

The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) O'Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1000 kicked off in dreamy, three-to-five foot conditions at Steamer Lane. Though lulls provided nail-biting finishes, moments of magic delivered near-perfect opportunities throughout the men's Round of 96 and Round of 64, Heats 1 - 6, as the women now await their debuts.

Santa Cruz Legend Bud Freitas, From Winning Trials To Near-Perfection At O'Neill Cold Water Classic
The former Bud Tour competitor and local legend earned an outstanding 17.10 heat total in the top-seeded Round of 64 after winning the trials heat and Round of 96 battle

Former full-time professional surfer, Bud Freitas, gave his hometown of Santa Cruz, California, a dominant display with the day's best performance of a 17.10 (out of a possible 20), including a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) over top-seeded competitor Michael Dunphy (USA) - also advancing. Frietas surged from winning the morning trials heat before taking control of the Round of 96 battle with rising talents Sage Guinaldo and Reed Platenius and now looks to keep his momentum alive. (Full interview in video)

Dimitri Poulos Posts Excellence In O'Neill Cold Water Classic Debut
The Ventura, California, competitor is no stranger to cold waters and he showed that with a brilliant 8.33 to start his campaign at Steamer Lane.

One of North America's emerging talents, Dimitri Poulos, awaits his big breakthrough and showcased a glimpse of his potential with an excellent 8.33 start to his Round of 64 debut. The former ISA Gold Medalist showed that form and continues to strive toward making his mark on the QS with an arsenal of powerful surfing. (Full interview in video above)

Jake Davis (USA) Jake Davis (USA) is back in the jersey after a last-minute alternate opportunity that he did not let pass. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

Professional surfing was nearly lost to Jake Davis over six years ago when he faced a life-threatening spinal surgery. Fast-forward to today's action and the San Clemente, California, competitor posted an excellent 8.50 and 14.50 heat total as a last-minute alternate. A simple trip up the coast to support his friends turned into unforeseen success as he heads into the Round of 32 with plenty of steam. (Full interview in video above)

"I have a brother who's four years older than me and I grew up watching him surf this event," said Davis. "I love this place. This was a great opportunity and I wasn't going to let it pass."

Cole Houshmand (USA) One of San Clemente's top threats, Cole Houshmand, showed calm under pressure in a slow starting heat. - WSL / Andrew Nichols

Santa Cruz is well represented after Freitas and Shaun Burns turned in brilliant showings in the Round of 64. But, they have some of the region's top-tier and rising talents right behind him after Cole Houshmand, Ryan Huckabee, David Okeefe, and more turning in 14-point plus heat totals in their respective battles. Huckabee and O'Keefe both had to overcome the Round of 96 and Round of 64 as Houshmand's Round of 64 debut matched that of Davis.

"It was a bit of a slow start and I was hoping for a restart, but then that set came and if I didn't go I felt like someone else was going to go," said Houshmand. "I'm stoked with how I was feeling, would've loved to catch more waves, but it's always good surfing The Lane with no one out. I love surfing and do what you love, and hopefully I can get out Tour one day."

Event organizers will convene for a 7:30 a.m. PDT call for a likely 8:00 a.m. PDT start to competition. Tune in LIVE when competition is called on at www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

The O'Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1,000 will run November 15 - 19 at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.

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