SANTA CRUZ, California (Friday, October 24, 2008) - Day Four of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic saw Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 17, lead the battle of the locals in his stacked heat against fellow Santa Cruz standouts Jason Collins (Santa Cruz, CA), 34, who advanced in second, and former two-time event finalist Josh Loya (Santa Cruz, CA), 39. The Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships saw a blend of international talent hit the water today as well.
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star event offers valuable ratings points to all competitors towards qualification for the 2009 ASP World Tour and affects each surfer's seed for next year. The O'Neill Cold Water Classic also represents the final stop on the Macy's California Trifecta Surf Series, which offers an additional prize purse to the event's top three finishers. With the current top surfers out of the Cold Water Classic, the 2008 Trifecta title is up for grabs.
Young displayed a brilliant performance of backhand surfing at his home break today with several beyond-vertical backside snaps. The explosive goofy-footer earned a single wave score of a near perfect 9.00 out of a possible 10 with two committed outside snaps and continued through to the inside with several more turns. Young followed up with more impressive surfing, earning a second score of a 7.27, also out of 10, to solidify the heat win over his local elders.
"Yea, I was a bit nervous, but luckily there were a bunch of waves, so everyone got their waves and no one was hassling," Young said. "I was just going on the waves that I thought looked good. There were so many that everyone was getting them."
Young's goal entering the heat was to only advance, but he ended up bumping Collins, who advanced in second, out of the lead, claiming top honors over his Steamer Lane idols. Young also eliminated Loya in his advancement into the Round of 32.
"I was stoked to beat them," Young said. "I just really wanted to make that heat. Hopefully that will build my confidence going into the next heats. Those guys surf so good out there, they are probably the best guys out there so it just helps with confidence going into my other heats when you beat some of the best guys."
It is still possible for Young to claim both the Men's and Junior's divisions. Young won the Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships in Santa Cruz last year and is in contention to claim the O'Neill Cold Water Classic as well after today's performance.
"It'd be sick," Young said. "I really want to do well in the junior because I want to go to Australia. I have a hard heat, but I want to do really well and finish like I did last year."
Noi Kaulukukui (Santa Cruz, CA), 27, was also a local standout performer today, eliminating innovative Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz (Kilauea, HI), 20, by using his local knowledge of Steamer Lane to claim the heat victory. Kaulukukui also topped ASP WQS standout Shaun Ward (Huntington Beach, CA), 26, who advanced in second.
"I just made sure I got off the cliff last so I was in position for the first set," Kaulukukui said. "The heat was pretty spread out. I saw Bruno (Rodrigues) sitting wide and I think he saw us getting waves up the point so he decided to come join us. After that we were all kind of spread out. You pretty much knew there were other waves coming and you just hope you get the better waves of the set."
The Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships kicked off today and saw Nick Rupp (Ocean Isle Beach, NC), 15, issue the upset of the junior event, defeating ASP North America Pro Junior series leader Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA), 19, in the final seconds of Round 3. Australian Heath Joske (Nambucca Heads, AUS), 19, flew over to compete in both divisions and dominated his opening junior heat, proving he is a contender for this year's Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships title.
The ASP North America Pro Junior Series is a gateway for the top five series surfers to qualify for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Narrabeen, Australia. With past champions including surfers such as three-time World Champion Andy Irons (Hanalei, HI), 30, Joel Parkinson (Coolangatta, AUS), 27 and Adriano de Souza (Guaruja Sao Paulo, BRA), 21, this year's Billabong ASP World Junior Championship competitors will look to add their name to the list of some of the sport's finest surfers.
Rupp entered a stacked heat against Mason Ho (North Shore, HI), 20, wildcard John John Florence (North Shore, HI), 16, and series leader Arrambide and delivered serious upsets eliminating both Arrambide and Florence from the event by catching a wave in the final seconds of his heat. Rupp earned the score needed to advance into second place behind Ho.
"I'm so glad I waited for that wave," Rupp said. "I was just sitting there thinking that I wasn't going to get the score. I'm so psyched to get through because I thought for sure that I lost."
Joske got off to a slow start in the men's event and was unable to escape his opening heat. The regular-footed Aussie was off to an uncharacteristically slow start in his junior heat as well, but donated a dominating performance after a few low scores, proving why he finished second on the ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series.
"Yesterday I had a really bad heat and I hadn't had a good surf out here yet," Joske said. "I got that first one and bogged on my first couple of turns and the judges sort of punished me for it and I got a 2.5. I thought I'd better do something good on my next one so I just tried to push it a little bit further and it seemed to work out."
It took Joske a while to adjust to Steamer Lane, but now that he's warmed up, he's a definite threat to the competition.
"I supposed at first it was a bit nerve wracking because the guys were taking off so close to the cliff, but the more you surf it the more comfortable you get," Joske said. "I'm alright with it now."
Tomorrow's Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships will continue with the last four heats of Round 2 and will also see Round 5 of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic. For all of the live O'Neill Cold Water Classic and Oakley Pro Junior action log on to www.coldwaterclassic.net
For additional Oakley Pro Junior information check out www.oakleyprojunior.com
O'Neill Cold Water Classic Results: Round of 64: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) 16.27, Jason Collins (USA) 16.23, Brandon Guilmette (USA) 12.60, Josh Loya (USA) 10.87
Heat 10: Omar Etcheverry (USA) 10.84, Torrey Meister (HAW) 10.30, Asher Nolan (USA) 10.23, Peter Mussio (USA) 9.10
Heat 11: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.40, Magnum Martinez (VEN) 11.73, Sean Marceron (USA) 6.00, Ricky Whitlock (USA) 5.57
Heat 12: Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 15.60, Randy Bonds (USA) 11.66, Alex Smith (HAW) 10.90, Ryah Arthur (USA) 7.30
Heat 13: Brad Ettinger (USA) 14.66, Kyle Garson (USA) 10.50, Nils Schweizer (USA) 8.27, Liam McNamara (HAW) 6.80
Heat 14: Kyle Knox (USA) 14.10, Jimmy Herrick (USA) 11.60, Nicholas Godfrey (ZAF) 11.50 Hank Gaskell (HAW) 10.64
Heat 15: Sean Moody (HAW) 11.10, Matt King (USA) 9.90, Nick Riley (AUS) 7.23, Josh Mulcoy (USA) 5.50
Heat 16: Noi Kaulukukui (USA) 15.50, Shaun Ward (USA) 12.10, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.94, Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 10.16
Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships Results: Round of 48: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Logan Strook (USA) 12.34, Mike McCabe (USA) 10.13, Phillip Goold (USA) 9.70, Ryan Burch (USA) 7.13
Heat 2: Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 15.33, Oliver Kurtz (USA) 7.00, Matt Chellemi (USA) 5.50, Riley Metcalf (USA) 4.37
Heat 3: Luke Davis (USA) 15.24, Nick Rupp (USA) 10.60, Tyler Newton (HAW) 9.00, Nick Godfrey (ZAF) 4.70
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 10.10, Tayler Brothers (USA) 9.07, Brett Barley (USA) 7.84, Quinn McCrystal (USA) 7.43
Heat 5: Heath Joske (AUS) 16.44, Evan Thompson (USA) 9.67, Kyle Kennelly (USA) 7.57, T.J. Mortellaro (USA) 4.97
Heat 6: Matt Pagan (USA) 12.43, Hunter Heverly (USA) 11.27, Balaram Stack (USA) 10.67, Daniel Shea (USA) 7.56
Heat 7: Jayke Sharp (AUS) 13.84, Michael Dunphy (USA) 8.27, Jensen Callaway (USA) 4.90, Ben Graeff (USA) 3.56
Heat 8: Fisher Heverly (USA) 12.83, Gabe Garcia (USA) 11.27, Rob Kelly (USA) 8.67, Patrick Cahill (USA) 5.26
Round of 32: (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Kellen Ellison (USA) 13.70, Blake Jones (USA) 12.50, Oliver Kurtz (USA) 10.40, Logan Strook (USA) 8.40
Heat 2: Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 10.34, Mike McCabe (USA) 10.07, Andrew Doheny (USA) 8.90, Marshall Alberga (USA) 7.60
Heat 3: Cody Thompson (USA) 15.50, Luke Davis (USA) 12.14, Trevor Saunders (USA) 7.87, Tayler Brothers (USA) 6.36
Heat 4: Mason Ho (HAW) 12.67, Nick Rupp (USA) 9.83, Cory Arrambide (USA) 9.60, John John Florence (HAW) 6.80