What: O’Neill Cold Water Classic, ASP 4-Star WQS Men’s Event #40
Where: Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz California
When: 21-27 October 2008
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star O’Neill Cold Water Classic kicked off yesterday at Santa Cruz’s coveted Steamer Lane in 1-metre conditions.
The first day of competition saw former two-time event finalist and Steamer Lane local, Josh Loya (Santa Cruz, CA), 39, and fellow Santa Cruz native Randy Bonds (Santa Cruz, CA), 31, post standout performances, while Roger Eales (San Diego, CA), 25, was one to watch as well.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic marks the final event in the continental United States this year, with all surfers earning ratings points towards the ASP World Tour. The Santa Cruz event also acts as the final stop on the Macy’s California Trifecta Surf Series, the only ASP Specialty Series in North America, which offers an additional prize purse to the series’ top three finishers.
Loya was a standout in Round 1, using his local knowledge to pick off the clean rights on offer at his home break. The seasoned Santa Cruz competitor was extremely selective in his opening heat, catching only two waves, but his choice of quality over quantity proved to pay off. “I wanted to catch three or four waves, but they kind of stopped coming,” Loya said. “I’d rather not go on a wave if I can’t get at least a 6 or a 7, so I was just waiting it out.”
The patience displayed by Loya today has proven to be successful strategy for him in the past. The powerful regular-footer was a finalist in the O’Neill Cold Water Classic last year and in 2006 as well. “It’s worked so far for me until the Final and then I just can’t find the right waves.”
Bonds also won his heat by catching only two waves. Like Loya, he also used his local knowledge to advance into Round 2 today with a pair of solid scores to claim a heat win over the field. “I got a couple of waves,” Bonds said. “Sometimes it’s hard out here to get your two waves but definitely there’s enough sets out there today where everyone can get a couple of waves.” Bonds expressed the importance of using patience at Steamer Lane as a key ingredient for success in the event. “I try to wait for good ones,” he said. “It’s just going to take good waves and a lot of luck. I’m just trying to go to bed early and stay out of trouble.”
Eales jumped out to an early lead in his Round 1 heat, earning a solid score of an 8.50 out of a possible 10 on his opening ride with several clean forehand carves on a Steamer Lane gem. The score proved to be the highest single wave score of the day. Eales followed up with a solid second score, which was enough for the heat win. “I drove up last night and I figured I wanted to get on some waves early and get my feet under me,” Eales said. “I surfed this morning, watched the surf and just tried to sit the farthest out with the lower tide and got lucky and got a good one off the bat.” Eales expressed his satisfaction with the good conditions on offer today at Steamer Lane. “It’s so good,” Eales said. “It’s sunny, four foot and so fun and I’m stoked.”
Today’s event will see the completion of Round 2 as well as the first few heats of Round 3.
Swell is expected to increase throughout the event with a solid northwest swell expected to hit later this week. The ideal direction of the swell combined with the favorable weather forecast should grace Santa Cruz with excellent conditions for the last few days of this year’s O’Neill Cold Water Classic.