STEAMER LANE, SANTA CRUZ, California – The O’Neill Cold Water Classic, known for rugged conditions and chilly water since its inception in 1987, returns to Santa Cruz, Calif. October 20 to 24, 2004. Nearly $100,000 in cumulative purses are at stake as the world’s elite square off against America’s top rising stars in the four-star men’s and women’s Association of Surfing Professionals’ (ASP), World Qualifying Series (WQS) competitions held at legendary Steamer Lane.
The “Roman Gladiator arena-like setting for the famed reef/point break has been the setting for classic showdowns over the years in the backyard of the world’s original surf company. “Santa Cruz is our home and surfing is the heart and soul of O’Neill’s business, said Bret Muhlitner, marketing director for Santa Cruz, Calif.-based O’Neill. “The Cold Water Classic and its rugged conditions are a key part of our heritage.
WQS stand-outs Chris Ward (San Clemente), Timmy Reyes (Huntington Beach) and Roy Powers (Hawaii) will battle against up-and-comers Brett Simpson (Huntington Beach), Dane Reynolds (Ventura), Jesse Merle Jones (Hawaii) and Alek Parker (Florida) for critical ratings points. Seventy-five thousand dollars is on the line. The final men’s Surfing America Pro Tour event on the U.S. Mainland also sets the stage for the six-star O’Neill World Cup of Surfing – Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 at Sunset Beach, Hawaii – the international WQS finale.
On the women’s side, the O’Neill Cold Water Classic is the final WQS of the year and will help determine who qualifies and/or re-qualifies for the 2005 World Championship Tour (WCT). Team O’Neill superstars Rochelle Ballard and Melanie Bartels, both from Hawaii, headline a world-class field that includes Jacqueline Silva (Brazil), Prue Jeffries (AUS) and Serena Brooke (AUS). At stake are $20,000 and title of U.S. Champion.
Adding to the festivities, four wildcards into the Cold Water Classic will be determined by outcome of the O’Neill Grom Prix, Oct. 9 in Santa Cruz. Winners of the Groms (13 and under), 14-17 girls and boys, all ages open and all ages women’s divisions will receive a paid entry from O’Neill. Other events and activities include prior Cold Water Classic champions squaring off against each other on Saturday, while six expert aerialists chase $1,000 in Sunday’s expression session.
Held during late winter in prior years in grueling conditions ranging from driving rainstorms to the occasional snow shower, the event was shifted to late Fall in 2002 to capitalize on favorable weather patterns. Another benefit of the new time frame is the excellent “Indian Summer waves produced on California’s north coast.
According to Surfline.com’s Sean Collins, the O’Neill Cold Water Classic is positioned to potentially receive an “extra tropical storm. “These storms begin as a typhoon off the coast of Japan and mix with cold, low pressure systems off Siberia. When they merge, they explode into small, but intense storms leading to early season swells, said Collins. “The resulting waves are extremely clean and really good.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic is supported by Coors Light, Surfer Magazine, Surfing Magazine, SG Magazine, FUEL TV and ASP North America.