Local Surfers Battle for Top Honors at O’Neill Cold Water Classic

SANTA CRUZ, California (Saturday, October 25, 2008) - The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star O'Neill Cold Water Classic completed Round 5 today in three-to-five foot (1.5 metre) surf. Local surfers Bud Freitas (Santa Cruz, CA), 24, and Randy Bonds (Santa Cruz, CA), 31, continued to standout in front of their home crowd as they attempt to take the O'Neill Cold Water Classic title back to Santa Cruz, while Granger Larsen (Lahaina, HI), 18, proved he is a threat to steal the title chances from the Santa Cruz entourage. The Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships completed Round 2 and the first two Quarterfinal heats this afternoon as well.

The O'Neill Cold Water Classic and Oakley Pro Junior ASP North American Championships mark the final ASP WQS and ASP Pro Junior events held in the continental United States. All ASP WQS surfers are working to earn points towards qualification for the 2009 ASP World Tour, while ASP Pro Junior surfers earn points to qualify for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships held in Narrabeen, Australia each January.

Freitas has been on fire throughout the week and dominated his Round 5 heat today as well. The powerful regular-footer earned the event's second highest single wave score of a 9.33 out of 10 today, placing placed his competitors in a combination situation as he advanced confidently into the Quarterfinals.

"I'm stoked," Freitas said. "The boys on the cliff were screaming and I almost missed that wave. I was so out of breath that I almost missed it. I ended up going all the way through and I got the score that I needed. I just put my head down and went for it because you've got to finish that last maneuver. I almost came off of it too. I almost fell. My legs were giving in and I was so out of breath."

Freitas is working on keeping his composure, focusing on his own game, not allowing other surfers scores to go to his head. The Santa Cruz local is hoping he can continue his performance tomorrow in order to claim this year's O'Neill Cold Water Classic title.

"I just have to keep my head on and not give up on myself," Freitas said. "That's the problem I've had in the past. If I hear someone get a good score I think I'm done with, but I've just got to keep my head on and keep pushing. I've just got to get past the Quarter finals."

Bonds advanced through a wave-starved heat against fellow locals Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 17, who advanced in second with a last-minute effort, and Omar Etcheverry (Santa Cruz, CA), 31 and has been a stand out throughout the event.

"It was super nerve racking with not that many waves coming in," Bonds said. "Surfing with three locals is hard because they know the spot and they're going to sit right there with you."

The Quarterfinals berth is Bonds' best performance at the O'Neill Cold Water Classic and the veteran local surfer will look to apply his local knowledge in the final day of competition tomorrow.

"This is the farthest I've ever made it here, so I'm pretty happy about this," Bonds said. "It helps to know which waves are going to be the good ones and know which ones are going to swing wide."

Larsen earned the day's highest heat total of 16.77 out of a possible 20 point score, proving he is a threat to the local standouts who have been dominating the event. Larsen took advantage of the medium sized waves on offer in his heat to earn the high heat total and is hoping to advance into the final of the event.

"I'd say the medium size ones are better because they have more of a wall," Larsen said. "My first wave was a set and I just did a bunch of cutbacks, but I found that the medium size ones had more of a wall to do good turns. I'd be stoked to make the Final here. That's my goal."

The Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships has seen huge upsets throughout the event, with only one top 10 surfer, Nat Young, still remaining in the event. The consistent upsets here at Steamer Lane have really stirred up the potential situation for qualification for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. With surfers like Cody Thompson (Jacksonville, FL), 19, who is currently in 12th on the ratings, still in contention for qualification for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. Luke Davis (Capo Beach, CA), 15, has also been a standout in the junior event, surfing with a power and style beyond his years.

Thompson has had an up and down season, but has been in form throughout the contest. The Floridian could still win the contest if he earns a strong enough result here in Santa Cruz.

"I've had a pretty rough year so far," Thompson. "I haven't had too many results. It seemed like I put myself out of the contingent to qualify so there's actually less pressure to qualify going into this event than the last few."

Thompson picked off a medium sized wave, which offered a long rippable wall instead of catching the softer set waves to advance into his Semifinals heat. Thompson's heat was stopped in the opening minutes due to a fog delay, but adjusted easily to the split heat.

"It was pretty much a different ocean when we got out for the second part of our heat," Thompson said. "It was way different and it was really hard. It seemed way better when we first started it, but that fog just rolled in and changed it."

Davis was also a stand out in the Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships today, advancing into the Semifinals at Steamer Lane. The Semifinals berth is Davis' best professional result.

"I'm super stoked," Davis said. "The waves are really fun and I've never made the Semifinals before. The waves are supposed to be really good tomorrow so I'm psyched."

Tomorrow's action will have an early 7:30am start instead of the usual 8am starting time due to today's fog delay. The action will begin with the remaining Quarter finals heats and will crown the 2008 O'Neill Cold Water Classic and Oakley Pro Junior and Macy's California Trifecta champions. The qualifiers for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships will be announced tomorrow as well.

Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships Results: Round of 32: (1st and 2nd advance)

Heat 5: Nat Young (USA) 10.50, Heath Joske (AUS) 8.50, Hunter Heverly (USA) 5.36, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 8.50
Heat 6: Austin Smith-Ford (USA) 9.50, Matt Pagan (USA) 9.40, Evan Geiselman (USA) 8.74, Evan Thompson (USA) 6.40
Heat 7: Jayke Sharp (AUS) 13.27, Gabe Garcia (USA) 11.40, Travis Beckmann (USA) 9.77, Adam Wickwire (USA) 9.10
Heat 8: Michael Dunphy (USA) 10.43, Fisher Heverly (USA) 8.70, Brent Reilly (USA) 8.60, Jason Harris (USA) 8.60

Quarterfinals: (1st and 2nd advance)

Heat 1: Luke Davis (USA) 12.70, Bruno Rodrigues (USA) 11.10, Kellen Ellison (USA) 7.60, Nick Rupp (USA) 2.20
Heat 2: Mason Ho (HAW) 11.57, Cody Thompson (USA) 10.47, Mike McCabe (USA) 8.53, Blake Jones (USA) 8.36

O'Neill Cold Water Classic Results: Round of 32: (1st and 2nd advance)

Heat 1: Micah Byrne (USA) 11.94, Blake Howard (USA) 9.76, Bobby Morris (USA) 8.73, Che Stang (USA) 7.87
Heat 2: Granger Larsen (HAW) 16.77, Chris Waring (USA) 13.70, Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.23, Danny Estes (USA) 9.57
Heat 3:Bud Freitas (USA) 15.73, David Gonsalves (HAW) 9.00, Casey Brown (HAW) 8.83, Eric McHenry (USA) 0.00
Heat 4: Chad Compton (USA) 10.57, Mason Ho (HAW) 8.77, Ted Navarro (USA) 8.44, Kevin Sullivan (USA) 7.17
Heat 5: Randy Bonds (USA) 11.23, Nat Young (USA) 8.87, Magnum Martinez (VEN) 8.33, Omar Etcheverry (USA) 7.77
Heat 6: Jason Collins (USA) 12.17, Cory Lopez (USA) 11.67, Torrey Meister (HAW) 7.10, Jesse Merle-Jones
Heat 7: Shaun Ward (USA) 14.50, Matt King (USA) 8.66, Brad Ettinger (USA) 8.00, Kyle Knox (USA) 7.37
Heat 8: Sean Moody (HAW) 12.17, Kyle Garson (USA) 10.13, Noi Kaulukukui (USA) 9.87