Bombing Swell Decides O'Neill Cold Water Classic Quarterfinalists
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME O’Neill Cold Water Classic California saw the event’s top performers march through the Round of 16 today. The chilly waters at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California offered solid eight-foot surf to decide the event’s Quarterfinalists.
Kieran Horn (Santa Cruz, CA), 35, who won the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in 2003 when the event was an ASP 4-Star, battled through three heats in the day’s wild conditions to earn a Quarterfinals berth at his home break of Steamer Lane while posting the highest heat total of 16.83 out of 20. Horn nearly fell in the Round of 24 to Australian standout Adam Melling (Lennox Head, AUS), 23, but blasted a 9.50 out of 10 to carry him through the heat, eventually allowing him to eliminate Dylan Graves (PRI), 23, in the Round of 16.
“I just felt so out of rhythm out there,” Horn said. “I was dodging the sets and sitting way out the back of the point and taking all of the waves on the head. Luckily, I finally got a few waves. Finally I got a wave and did a couple of carves and it had a nice little peak. I knew I had to do something and just did a big float and held on.”
Horn’s guaranteed fifth place result at this year’s O’Neill Cold Water Classic California comes as a bit of redemption after last year when he suffered a shocking Round 1 loss.
“Last year was small and I had a heat where the guys hassled the heck out of me,” Horn said. “This year there has been waves and it feels good. I don’t know how many more years I’ll be competing, and so I want to take advantage of my opportunity.”
Horn is now the only local Santa Cruz surfer left in the draw and is out to carry the torch for his hometown in an attempt to keep the O’Neill Cold Water Classic California title in Santa Cruz.
“Since it’s a 6-Star PRIME we didn’t have as many local surfers in the event this year,” Horn said. “With Nat (Young), Noi (Kaulukukui) and Jason (Collins) getting knocked out early, I knew I was the only one left. There’s not really any additional pressure, once I get in the water I’m not really thinking about it.”
Alejo Muniz (Santa Catarina, BRA), 20, put a stop to a rampaging Sebastian Zietz (Kilauea, HI), 21, in the Round of 16 to advance through to the Quarterfinals after the two surfers struggled to find waves in the bombing disorganized surf at Steamer Lane. Zietz had posted the event’s only perfect 10-point ride in the Round of 24,
“I’m so happy, because I didn’t know that I made it through,” Muniz said. “I didn’t know that I made it through because I couldn’t hear the announcer. I rode my normal board and it was too small for these conditions, but I’m pretty stoked to make it through. There are big closeouts, but the jet skis really help.”
Muniz, who is a standout on the ASP Pro Junior Series and recently placed equal third at the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge in Bali, knows the Quarterfinals berth will play a crucial role in his seed for next year on The Grind and is hoping to continue his momentum through tomorrow’s action.
“I had a good result in Portugal earlier in the year, so I’m really happy to get another good finish here in Santa Cruz,” Muniz said. “I’m just taking it heat-by-heat though and hopefully I can do well again tomorrow.”
Muniz’s upcoming Quarterfinals battle will be no easy match however, as he will face compatriot and current ASP World No. 3 Adriano de Souza (Guaruja Sao Paulo, BRA), 22, in the opening Quarterfinals heat.
“Adriano is my hero and it will be great to surf against him,” Muniz said. “I’ve never had the chance to surf in a heat with him before and I’m really looking forward to the heat.”
Nathan Yeomans (San Clemente, CA), 28, tore through two heats today and posted a solid 15.50 out of 20 heat total to advance through to the Quarterfinals in the premier event over Brazilian standout Marcio Farney (Santa Catarina, BRA), 28.
“It’s tough out there. It’s bumpy and all over the place,” Yeomans said. “I was able to get a couple of good ones though and there is a fun left coming through.”
The San Clemente talent is currently sitting in the No. 22 position on the ASP WQS, setting him just outside the bubble for qualification for the 2010 ASP World Tour. Yeomans is hungry to launch back within the top 15 on The Grind with a good result at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic California, but is focusing on the smaller tasks ahead of him rather than his final goals.
“It’s nice to get a result,” Yeomans said. “It’s a long year and it’s been awhile. Obviously, I have my goals set, and each heat I’m getting that much closer. Tomorrow is the Quarterfinals, so I’m just preparing for that.”
O’Neill Cold Water Classic California and Oakley Pro Junior ASP North America Championships Champions will be crowned tomorrow afternoon. The event will get started at 8 am with Heat 1 of the Quarterfinals of the main event.
For all of the LIVE action log on to www.oneill.com/cwc/california. For Oakley Pro Junior inquiries log on to www.oakleyprojunior.com