Happy Birthday Mr. Melling

Adam Melling
Stuart Kennedy
Stuart Kennedy
Adam Melling
William Cardoso
Adam Melling
Adam Melling
Adam Melling and William Cardoso
Adam Melling
Joan Duru
Tom Whitaker
Willian Cardoso
Adam Melling
Adam Melling

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

Quarterfinals
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

Semifinals
Heat 1 –
Adam Melling, AUS defeated Tom Whitaker, AUS
Heat 2 – Willian Cardoso, BRA defeated Stu Kennedy, AUS

Final
Adam Melling, AUS defeated Willian Cardoso, BRA

What a way to turn 26. Adam Melling. Photo courtesy Sergio Villalba/O'Neill

What a way to turn 26. Adam Melling. Photo courtesy Sergio Villalba/O'Neill

Head to the next page for the official ASP press release.

OFFICIAL ASP PRESS RELEASE

GISBORNE, New Zealand (Tuesday, March 29, 2011) – Adam Melling (AUS) has clinched the first event of the 2011 O'Neill Cold Water Classic at Gisborne, New Zealand today claiming the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) six-star event in the last 30 seconds over Brazilian surfer Willian Cardoso.

The final took place at The Pines on Wainui Beach in clean 1.5m waves with offshore winds. This was despite a horrid forecast of gale force onshore winds for today. The miraculous turn around in weather had the crowds out, rugged up and absorbing the action that unfolded in the last seven heats.

Melling posted 15.20 out of a possible 20 points for the win, made even more special given he was celebrating his 26th birthday.

"I am 26 today and I won the final… I am stoked" said Melling after being chaired up the beach by his mates.

"Pretty fun out there, it turned on for the final. Even though the tide come up there were still sets. It was a little slow at the start but came on in the end, last 90 seconds anyway" added Melling of his last minute victory after scoring an 8.03 point ride for two huge forehand turns with only seconds to spare."

"At the start of the heat there, I was looking back in at the beach and I was thinking wow I don't have any waves. I missed one at the start and I was freaking out a bit and Willian was down the beach but I knew I was in a good spot and if a 'sucky' one came in I knew I could bang out the turns and get the score."

At the prize giving after an emotional haka performed by an inspired local Maori, Melling was awarded with a traditional Maori weapon called a tewhatewha, in the tradition of the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series where the winners receive meaningful awards from the host country.

Melling received $20,00 0 USD for the win and moves up one place on the ASP One World Rankings to 23rd and hopes to be able to attend more O'Neill Cold Water Classic events in a bid to win the Series and claim the $50,000 USD prize money for the Series win.

After the win Melling was full of praise for the Gisborne Region. "It is a perfect spot for the comp – not too cold but some freezing mornings still. So many different waves on offer and you can hide from the weather."

Despite placing second scoring 13.67 points after holding the lead for more than 29 minutes, Cardoso was still happy with his result today.

"I am so stoked, it was a really really fun day."

"I did my best in the final and I take an 8.5 on my first wave and only need a back up and I got 5.0 on my second wave. Adam is a great surfer and on the world tour. The last second he changed the result but I am stoked to get a great start to the year" said Cardoso who has been travelling in motor homes with eleven of his Brazilian friends enjoying waking up at the beach each day and enjoying the New Zealand coastline.

Placing third today were Australians Tom Whitaker and Stu Kennedy.

By way of his third place, Whitaker jumped one place on the ratings to 32nd pushing Bobby Martinez (USA) to 33rd. However this was the last thing on Whitaker's mind after losing to his good mate Adam Melling.

"Yeah mate it is his birthday, we sat 200m apart we didn't want a piece of each other in that heat and he got the waves, I didn't. It is the only way you want to lose to a good buddy. To watch him go on and win it is epic, we are going to have a good time tonight."

Kennedy on the other hand was left wondering what might have been after losing to Cardoso.

"I don't know, I didn't think one of his scores was a six, but that is what the judges are there for and they do their thing. I don't know, I was in the water right there."

Despite the afterthoughts Kennedy was still happy with the third placing.

"I am pretty happy with third, would have been good to have a final with Adam on his birthday but I will be there to chair him up the beach when he wins" said Kennedy who also gave glowing reviews of the event held over the past week. "New Zealand is great. I can't wait to come back next year. This place is perfect for it you know."

Please see below for the final results from the O'Neill Cold Water Classic – Gisborne completed today (Tuesday 29th March).

Quarterfinals
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

Semifinals
Heat 1 –
Adam Melling, AUS defeated Tom Whitaker, AUS
Heat 2 – Willian Cardoso, BRA defeated Stu Kennedy, AUS

Final
Adam Melling, AUS defeated Willian Cardoso, BRA

Following the launch in New Zealand, the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series will travel to its northernmost destination – Thurso, Scotland, for the ASP 6-Star event from April 13 until April 19, before culminating once again at the ASP PRIME event, the O'Neill Cold Water Classic Series, California, in Santa Cruz, October 24-30, 2011.

For O'Neill Cold Water Classic highlights log on to http://www.oneill.com/cwc/ONeill_Coldwater_Classic_Series_Home.html