The O’Neill Coldwater Classic, stop #30 on the World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualification (QS) Tour, surged through the first day of action with lively surfing in fun conditions at Steamer Lane today. Beginning the day with the Local Trials to see who would surf as the Santa Cruz wildcard, the competition also completed Round 1 in its entirety and Heats 1-3 of Round 2 to finish the day.
Conditions started to improve in the afternoon as the tide began to drop and Tonino Benson (HAW) put on the performance of the day. Dropping the opening day’s highest single-wave score, 9.53 (out of a possible 10), and heat total, 16.20 (out of a possible 20) in Heat 15 of Round 1, the Hawaiian returned to competition after a very difficult few years away.
“It feels great to have the jersey on and be prepared after I took some time off to spend it with my dad before he just passed away,” Benson said. “That was a changing point in my life and I got to spend a couple of years with him so it was good there in the end. I’m glad to be here – it’s a great start to my first QS so I’m just really happy and trying my best. I’ve been doing this my whole life and I’m ready. It feels like there hasn’t been a day gone from work.”
One of the younger surfers in competition, 16-year-old Micky Clarke (USA), picked apart a Steamer Lane beauty for an impressive 8.67 to earn an advancing position behind Benson. The Ventura native couldn’t believe the wave that came his way and knew it deserved his best efforts.
“I was so pumped,” Clarke said. “I was sitting out at the beginning of the heat with first priority for about 10 minutes and I got pretty stressed out. When I saw that dream wall come through I just hoped it lined up so when it did I was really excited.”
Clarke’s history at Steamer Lane began with the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) and now finds himself amongst some incredible international talent. Despite the varying conditions, Clarke dug deep into his background here and stuck to his strategy.
“The NSSA have a few contests here which is really good experience for how this wave is,” Clarke said. “It can be really shifty and wobbly so if you link into the right wave it can be so fun. It was leading up to the end of high tide which is good but I think the swell started falling off a little bit so I just waited to pick off the right waves that suit me best.”
While Benson and Clarke reveled in the afternoon conditions, Victor Done (USA) had his strategy in place and earned the first heat win of the main event in slower, early morning conditions. Posting a solid 15.00, including an excellent 8.50, Done took that momentum into a Round 2 win and is looking to be a threat here in Santa Cruz.
“I was really trying to stick with my priority and really solidify on that,” Done said. “It seemed like Ben [Coffey] got a lot of good scores on the inside so he kind of did it all under priority. If I had known that was an option I might have tried that as well but you have to stick with your guns.”
“There’s also a lot of warble out there so when you’re bottom turning you have to wait and pick your spot but be really quick and react to it,” Done added. “I feel like I did that pretty well so I tried to slow it down and really not try to fit too much in – it’s a long wave so you have to be patient.”
Before the O’Neill Coldwater Classic began the main event, Local Trials were held amongst some of Santa Cruz’s finest surfers. Bud Freitas (USA) took down the all Eastside Semifinal before blasting an 8.00 and 6.50 in the Trials Final for a victory. Though he has his local status cemented in Santa Cruz, this wave is ever-changing and Freitas has been out at dark each morning leading up to the Classic – showing that experience does pay dividends.
“This wave is actually really challenging to surf so I was out there early just to get the kinks out,” Freitas said. “Every day at the Lane is different. If you look at the stats you’ll see there’s a lot more winners from the East and we’re proud of that. It’s a friendly rivalry though. We don’t really have what was going on back in the 70s and I support them as much as they support me – and I really support those guys.”
Going forward, the 32-year-old surf industry sales representative is loving his time competing in front of a home crowd and charging through Trials into a main event, but not something he can do too much more of.
“I’m sick of the trials,” Freitas said laughing. “I’d love to just get in the Main Event straight away. Can’t take it anymore – I’m getting old and keep telling myself if I don’t win it I’m out, can’t keep chasing it. But, in all seriousness I am super stoked to make it into the weekend and keep competing without a doubt.”
Tune in tomorrow at 8:00am PST for continued action of Round 2, beginning with Heat 4, at us.oneill.com/cwcas a new swell is expected to fill in throughout the afternoon.
The 2015 O’Neill Coldwater Classic airs as part of the Red Bull Signature Series on Red Bull TV during all three days of competition, with a full replay available immediately following each day of competition as Video On Demand. Additionally, an exclusive one-hour presentation of the event will air on NBC December 19th at 12:00pm PT/3:00pm ET.
Special thanks to title sponsor O’Neill as well as co-sponsors and event partners Red Bull, Futures Fins, Watermans Sunscreen, Banzai Bowls, SURFER Magazine, Surfline, Hotel Paradox, Cruzio Internet and East Side Eatery for supporting the 2015 O’Neill Coldwater Classic.
Learn more and follow all of the action at us.oneill.com/cwc#oneillcwc
O’Neill Coldwater Classic Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Victor Done (USA) 12.16, Leandro Usuna (ARG) 10.53, Fisher Heverly (USA) 10.43, Alvaro Malpartida (PER) 9.64
Heat 2: Matt Passaquindici (USA) 12.87, Travis Beckmann (HAW) 12.00, Manuel Selman (CHL) 11.27, Quinn McCrystal (USA) 8.77
Heat 3: Kilian Garland (USA) 11.90, Alejandro Moreda (PRI) 11.40, Wil Reid (USA) 6.67, Luke Shepardson (HAW) 6.43
O’Neill Coldwater Classic Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Victor Done (USA) 15.00, Quinn McCrystal (USA) 13.60, Ben Coffey (USA) 13.43, Paul Pugliesi (USA) 6.10
Heat 2: Travis Beckmann (USA) 10.07, Alvaro Malpartida (PER) 10.06, Ricky Whitlock (USA) 9.54, Patrick Furlotti (USA) 3.53
Heat 3: Wil Reid (USA) 10.33, Parker Cohn (USA) 8.37, Sage Burke (USA) 7.57, Anthony Ruffo (USA) 6.27
Heat 4: Jack Boyes (USA) 13.53, Alejandro Moreda (PRI) 12.50, Noah Collins (USA) 10.27, Kain Daly (HAW) 2.50
Heat 5: Brogie Panesi (USA) 13.90, Kairi Noro (JPN) 10.03, Keijiro Nishi (JPN) 9.73, Dylan Christensen (USA) 3.83
Heat 6: Miles Clanton (USA) 8.47, Patrick Curren (USA) 8.37, Wyatt McHale (HAW) 7.77, Kirk Weissinger (USA) 5.70
Heat 7: Albee Layer (HAW) 12.50, Jeff Knell (USA) 10.47, Chandler Norton (USA) 5.70, Kalani Ross (HAW) 5.50
Heat 8: Kelson Lau (HAW) 8.47, Coconut Willie (HAW) 8.14, Brandon Todd (USA) 6.64, Nate Dorman (USA) 6.60
Heat 9: Dylan Kowalski (USA) 11.23, Bud Freitas (USA) 10.73, Martin Jeri (PER) 4.17, Derek Wong (HAW) 4.17
Heat 10: Matthew Pagan (USA) 14.00, Todd Rosewall (AUS) 8.87, Mylan Login (USA) 5.37, Jud Lau (HAW) 5.06
Heat 11: Jacob Szekely (USA) 11.16, Tyler Morris (USA) 10.90, Eric Totah (USA) 4.00, Frank Chenault (USA) 0.77
Heat 12: Jason Collins (USA) 10.27, Mitchell Salazar (MEX) 6.23, Cody Canzoneri (USA) 6.00, Allen Schuyler (HAW) 2.80
Heat 13: Chris Waring (USA) 13.83, Dylan Southworth (MEX) 13.30, Richie Schmidt (USA) 11.03, Brad Ettinger (USA) 9.26
Heat 14: Andrew Jacobson (USA) 12.00, Remy Juboori (USA) 11.44, Landon McNamara (HAW) 9.16, Braiden Maither (HAW) 8.53
Heat 15: Tonino Benson (HAW) 16.20, Micky Clarke (USA) 13.24, Tyler Gunter (USA) 10.03, Jake Kelley (USA) 9.10
Heat 16: Andrew Doheny (USA) 13.76, Randy Bonds (USA) 13.00, Danny Berk (USA) 5.57, Myles Laine-Toner (USA) 4.40
O’Neill Coldwater Classic Trials Final Results:
1. Bud Freitas (USA) 14.50
2. Jimmy Herrick (USA) 11.43
3. Adam Replogle (USA) 10.86
4. Tyler Smith (USA) 10.17
O’Neill Coldwater Classic Trials Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Adam Replogle (USA) 9.03, Bud Freitas (USA) 8.63, Wilem Banks (HAW) 8.10, Jesse Columbo (USA) 5.63
Heat 2: Jimmy Herrick (USA) 10.57, Tyler Smith (USA) 10.23, Wyatt Barrabee (USA) 9.47 Chad Underhill (USA) 9.20