Caption: Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, topped dangerous local wildcard Nat Young (USA), 21, to advance to Round 4 of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic.
SANTA CRUZ, California/USA (Sunday, November 4, 2012) – The O’Neill Coldwater Classic, Stop No. 9 of 10 on the 2012 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), returned to Steamer Lane in fantastic fashion today, bearing witness to major shakeups in the race for the 2012 ASP World Title.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 24, former O’Neill Coldwater Classic winner (2010), caused a significant upset this morning, eliminating ASP WCT No. 4 John John Florence (HAW), 19, in Round 2 of competition, ending the young Hawaiian’s run for the 2012 ASP World Title. Wilkinson’s victory came at the hands of a dominant backhand performance, where the talented goofy-footer claimed one of the day’s highest scores of a 9.20 for a seamless combination of turns.
“I know I can get big scores out here and I kind of know which waves are good,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a really tricky wave and there are so many elements that can make a good wave bad. It was a relief when I got that 9. I started off on a wave that I thought was perfect and there was so much wonky stuff going on. I just decided to wait for a bomb and when that one was coming I was super nervous. I knew if I just surfed it I’d get an 8. It was a perfect wave and I got a good score so I’m stoked.”
Wilkinson will face off against Owen Wright (AUS), 22, when O’Neill Coldwater Classic competition resumes.
Jadson Andre (BRA), 22, issued the upset of the day, eliminating current ASP WCT No. 3 Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, in Round 2 of competition. Andre was in need of a 7-point ride in the dying moments of his heat and combined a furious combination of backhand blasts to narrowly edge out the two-time ASP World Champion, significantly hampering Fanning’s ASP World Title run.
“I knew that was going to be a hard heat,” Andre said. “Mick was looking for the World Title and I’m trying to keep myself on the World Tour. It was an important heat for both Mick (Fanning) and myself. Mick started with a 9 and I was wondering what’s going on. All of my heats, people are starting with 10s and 9.5s. I tried to stay focused and knew I could get the score if I had the opportunity.”
Andre was unable to surpass veteran Australian Taj Burrow (AUS), 34, in their Round 3 affair however, taking an equal 13th place finish at the O’Neill Coldwater Classic.
Raoni Monteiro (BRA), 30, contributed to the Brazilian storm of upsets today, eliminating ASP WCT sophomore Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, in Round 2 before taking down Jordy Smith (ZAF), 24, in Round 3.
“I’m feeling good, comfortable and happy and I’m just thinking about going on there to surf,” Monteiro said. “I’m just coming back from an injury. I spent three months at home and I feel like there’s no pressure. I’m just thinking about surfing.”
After suffering a career threatening knee injury in Massive Cloudbreak earlier this season, Monteiro has made a dramatic return to competition, besting Kelly Slater (USA), 40, in Portugal before taking down both Wilson and Smith at the O’Neill Coldwater Classic.
“I’m really happy because I had a pretty good result in Portugal, a 9th place,” Monteiro said. “I’m happy to be here in Santa Cruz, I like this place and I like the cold water. This is a wild place. The cold water, seals everywhere, it’s very different from where I come from and I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, relied on his aerial game while hunting the lefthanders at Steamer Lane to best veteran Taylor Knox (USA), 41, in an intense Round 3 battle of power versus progression. In need of a solid score in the dying minutes, Medina launched a massive full-rotation aerial, earning a 9.53 for the ride and a spot in Round 4.
“I just knew I needed a 7,” Medina said. “I saw the set coming and knew I was going to have a chance. I went for the air and made it, so I’m pretty stoked. Before my heat I was watching the waves and I saw the lefts were pretty good, with a section at the end of the wave. The wind is good to do airs and I just went for it.”
Travis Logie (ZAF), 33, was another goofy-footer to put on a backhand clinic at Steamer Lane today, besting fellow right-foot-forward surfer Adrian Buchan (AUS), 30, to advance to Round 4 in a hard-fought heat.
“Ace (Buchan) is one of the most lethal backhanders out there and I knew it was going to be a tough one,” Logie said. “The waves changed so much from the heat before, but I just stuck to my guns and waited for the two double-up ones and I’m feeling good now. I feel like my surfing suits this wave and I had a few good heats out here last year.”
Logie, current No. 26 on the ASP WCT, is in need of a solid result to remain among the ASP Top 34 for 2013 and his advancement through to Round 4 marks the best performance of the strong South African’s year.
“I’ve been stuck in that third round all year and Round 4 is a no-losers heat,” Logie said. “It’s always a lot of fun, there’s no pressure, but there’s still a lot at stake, so I’m going to be out there to win it. I want to get to that Quarterfinal so bad, so I’m excited. It looks like we’re going to have some waves tomorrow and it should be a good day.”
While Fanning and Florence fell early, current ASP poll leader Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, and 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 40, were victorious today, intensifying the race for the 2012 crown.
Joel Parkinson looked at home among the righthanders of Steamer Lane and displayed his signature forehand approach to top dangerous local wildcard Nat Young (USA), 21.
“It was pretty cool surfing against Nat (Young),” Parkinson said. “It’s always good to surf against someone who has the whole beach behind them. I get to do it at Snapper, but it’s nice to see someone else get it.”
Parkinson, the most consistent surfer this season, has yet to win an elite event in 2012 and clearly announced his intentions to take out this year’s O’Neill Coldwater Classic to aid in his ASP World Title campaign.
“Making this round is good if you need a result, but I need a win here,” Parkinson said. “I really want a win here. It’s what I’m striving for and I can’t really control what everyone else does, so I’m just worrying about myself.”
Kelly Slater current ASP WCT No. 2, kept his hopes of a 12th ASP World Title alive, narrowly escaping a slow Round 2 affair over wildcard Jason ‘Ratboy’ Collins, before eliminating Dusty Payne (HAW), 23.
“There’s a very good chance that I’m out of the race if I don’t win a couple of heats here,” Slater said after his Round 2 victory. “With that being said, it’s easier for me to make up points if I start getting results. If I make Quarters or better, I’ll add some good points.”
Slater had admittedly struggled to find a rhythm in the challenging Steamer Lane lineup, but rebounded in his Round 3 bout against Payne, forcing an ASP World Title showdown at the Pipe Masters with his Round 4 berth.
“I just can’t seem to figure this wave out, so I better figure something out quick,” Slater said. “It’s tough. There weren’t many opportunities out there. I think Rat (Jason Collins) had a couple of good ones, but he kept telling me there were huge boat wakes coming in. My last wave was a nice open face, but I didn’t have to do much on it. I just had to do a couple of turns and not fall. There just weren’t too many waves at the time. I’m frustrated as could be right now. I just keep thinking I can’t have a worse heat, so I hope I have a better one next heat.”
Slater would regroup to survive a hard-fought battle with Dusty Payne (HAW), 23, in this afternoon’s Round 3, eliminating the mathematical chance of the ASP World Title being decided at Steamer Lane and sending the race to the final event of the year in Hawaii.
When competition resumes, up first will be Owen Wright (AUS), 22, against Matt Wilkinson in Heat 9 of Round 2.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 6:15am local time for a possible 6:45am start.