Adam Melling came out on the final day of the 2011 O’Neill Cold Water Classic New Zealand event freshly 26. He made easy work of Spaniard Gony Zubizarreta in the first quarterfinal heat of the morning. Melling’s speedy, compact style wasting no motion en route to damaging Gisborne lips and racing out of dreamy, green tubes. Melling then made good mate and former World Tour surfer Tommy Whitaker look all of his 31-years-of-age in their semis bout. They sat a good distance apart the whole heat, giving each other the space to do their own thing. And Melling’s own thing was exhibiting his World Tour on rail and above the lip skills.
Next up for the birthday boy was the final against Brazilian Willian Cardoso. Willian was surfing well the whole day, but Melling seemed like the man possessed—who wouldn’t want to win $20Gs on their 26th birthday? But it was Cardoso who took an early command of the heat and never looked back. Melling struggled to get anything of significance until around the 5-minute mark when his ferouciouness from earlier reared it’s head again. But he still needed a 5-and-change or better, and Willian was sitting on priority as the minutes ticked away.
Around the 1-minute mark lines began funneling into The Pines at Gisborne and the crowd was buzzing. Willian snagged the first solid right, keeping Melling off, and dropped his 4.50 for a 5.17. Melling immediatley took the next one, going left, and started with a solid vertical bash on his backhand. He was running with it to the closeout section, a lofty crumbler looking good for a punt, but he didn’t commit all the way, blowing what appeared to be his last attempt with now less than a minute remaining (he ended up getting a 5.67 for this one). With a set still pouring in he raced back out and swiftly turned and stroked into one of the better looking rights of the final with 20 seconds left. Willian watched from the beach as his lead remained at merely .83 of a point. The wave backed off a bit in the beginning but allowed Adam to get a vertical hit into the foam, setting up for a huge finishing end section blast, which he executed to perfection. As he milked the wave to the beach the score was called out as an 8.03 and the birthday boy was granted one of the best birthday gifts he’s ever received: $20,000 and 3,500 points to take the lead in the O’Neill CWC Series (with $50,000 up for grabs to the series victor). Melling finished his birthday just the way he started it off: on fire and in the zone. Happy 26th Birthday Mr. Melling.—Ryan Brower
Heat 1 – Adam Melling, AUS defeated Gony Zubizarreta, ESP
Heat 2 – Tom Whitaker, AUS defeated Joan Duru, FRA
Heat 3 – Willian Cardoso, BRA defeated Thiago Camarao, BRA
Heat 4 – Stu Kennedy, AUS defeated Miguel Pupo, BRA
Heat 1 – Adam Melling, AUS defeated Tom Whitaker, AUS
Heat 2 – Willian Cardoso, BRA defeated Stu Kennedy, AUS
Adam Melling, AUS defeated Willian Cardoso, BRA
Head to the next page for the official ASP press release.