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When I was in high school, my friends and I would get in the car on warm days and take the windy roads of Highway 17 through the mountains and over to Santa Cruz. We’d hang out at the beach and lounge in the sun. I also remember spying on the surfers.
Surfing on the mainland started in Santa Cruz. Over the past week, surfing was in the spotlight as the best surfers descended on the beach town for the O’Neill Coldwater Classic. The Coldwater Classic is typically a ASP Prime event but was elevated to a World Championship Tour event this year in honor of O’Neill’s 60th Anniversary.
It was the second to last event on the Tour this year and had the potential to play a role in determining this year’s World Champion with Kelly Slater, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and John John Florence all contenders. In the end, the event didn’t change much.
Steamer Lane can be a fickle wave and many of the top surfers had difficulty figuring it out. Mick and John John were eliminated in early rounds. Kelly had an off event, losing to Nat Young in the three-man heat in Round 1 and to Jeremy Flores in Round 4. Typically, he makes quick work of these early rounds and skips his way into the Quarterfinals. Instead, he had to surf a few extra heats.
On the final day, in Round 5 against Adriano De Souza, Kelly couldn’t seem to get a rhythm going. With about seven and a half minutes left in the heat, rather than paddling his way back out to the line-up, Adriano chose to jump out of the water and do the “run around” – along the beach and back up the cliffs to jump back into the water. That left Kelly all alone in the line-up for about two and a half minutes. He had his pick of any good wave that came through to get the score he needed to move into the lead. As Adriano jumped into the water, Kelly took off on two waves that offered up nothing and turned flat. He didn’t get the wave he needed and lost 9.4 to 10.5.
That left the door wide open for Joel Parkinson – the remaining World Title contender in the contest. Joel had been surfing well the entire event and most people were betting on him to win the whole thing. He was up against Travis Logie – who needed a good result in order to earn a spot on the World Tour next year - in the Quaterfinals. Instead, Travis surfed his heart out and delivered a massive upset 13.83 to 13.00.
At the end of the day, Taj Burrow suited up to surf against Matt Wilkinson in the Finals. This was Wilko’s first ASP World Tour Final. He also needed a good result in order to requalify for the Tour next year. He and Taj were pretty much tied throughout the heat. It came down to Wilko’s last wave and the last maneuver on that wave. He carved two good turns and then fell on his last turn. Had he stuck it, he would have won the event. He needed a 5.9 but he received a 5.5, allowing Taj to win his second event this year with a score of 13.1 to Wilko’s 12.7.
The battle for the World Title now goes to the final event at the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December. It comes down to a race between Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning. ASP ran the numbers and calculated a number of possibilities of who could win the World Title heading into the final event.
You can watch recaps of the heats from the Coldwater Classic.
Have you been to Santa Cruz? Have you surfed there?
***Don’t forget to enter to win an Erica Sara Designs necklace?? Go enter! For every entry that I receive, I will donate $1 to Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts. Go do it!! Giveaway ends on Monday, November 12 at 8pm EST***
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