Yesterday pumped all day, with overhead surf and the drama of a World Title race hanging in the balance. With that settled (Slater advanced through round 3, so the title will be decided at Pipe this December), the swell dropped off Monday, and delivered a day of stops and starts at Steamer Lane. The contest kicked off in the morning for a few heats, went on hold for a few hours, and then started again in the afternoon for round four.
With the world title action backgrounded for a bit, the focus shifted to the guys fighting to keep their spots on tour next year. First up was Matt Wilkinson, who took out Owen Wright in the morning, and for good measure tore the crap out of his round 4 heat later in the day, which earned him a spot in the quarters. Where other pros keep talking about how "tricky" Steamer Lane is, Wilko seems to be right in synch with it all, channeling his inner weirdness, which fits right in with Santa Cruz. He logged the top heat score of the round, and some sorely needed points.
Earlier in round 4 Taj Burrow sliced his way to a quarter finals spot as well, as did Joel Parkinson. Uncharacteristically, Kelly Slater has a bit of a shocker, paddling out on a buckled board without realizing it, and then having some slippage. "I was all over the place," said the champ, "I didn't wax it up before I went out, it was frustrating." Jeremy Flores took advantage of Slater's rare slip up, and took the heat win. For how high the stakes are, being relegated to round 5 could prove to be a pivotal point in Slater's world title campaign. Especially since Kelly will face Adriano De Souza, who besides being a tough-as-nails competitor, has shared some heated moments with Slater over the years. It'll be a cracker, not one to miss.
The word on the street is that there should be a little uptick in swell overnight, and they're hoping to run the rest of the contest tomorrow.—Casey Koteen
ASP Press Release: World’s Best Ignite Round 4 of O’Neill Coldwater Classic, Possible Champion Crowned Tomorrow
STEAMER LANE, Santa Cruz/California (Monday, November 5, 2012) – The O'Neill Coldwater Classic, Stop No. 9 of 10 on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), completed Rounds 3 and 4 today, with the ASP World Title Race and requalification campaigns heating up at Steamer Lane.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, current frontrunner for the ASP World Title, moved one step closer to achieving his goal of winning the O'Neill Coldwater Classic. Parkinson was selective in his slow Round 4 heat, but the cautious wave choice allowed the Australian to notch the day's highest score of 9.50 for a powerful combination of turns, aiding in his advancement to the Quarterfinals.
"It was really slow at the start and I didn't get a wave for about 11 minutes," Parkinson said. "That 9.5 was a good wave. I waited. I figured I wasn't going to waste my time on small waves. I'd rather lose than see someone get the wave that I wanted." Parkinson, a three-time ASP World Runner-Up, is within striking distance of his maiden elite crown and knows big results in the last two events will be crucial in finishing atop the ASP WCT Rankings.
"That heat was really important," Parkinson said. "I'm dropping a 9th and replacing it with a 5th or better now. Tomorrow's a new day and there's still a lot of work to do. It's great to have the title come down to Pipe. It's the best thing to be in it for Pipe and it's good for surfing."
Jeremy Flores (FRA), 24, was another natural-footer to find success in today's challenging conditions. Like Parkinson, the Frenchman also started strong with a powerful forehand attack on his opening wave, notching an excellent 9.37 for the ride to hold off Tahitian powerhouse Michel Bourez(PYF), 27, and Kelly Slater (USA), 40, to earn his Quarterfinals berth. "That first wave was perfect," Flores said. "It was the best wave I've had so far and I feel better. It's funny, I changed my wax and I actually felt better. It feels good to actually put a heat together. Wave choice out here is important. I think the guy that catches the right waves out here is going to win the heat if they don't fall. Of course guys like Kelly (Slater) or even Michel (Bourez) can get a 9 on anything. I've been scratching through heats, so that one felt better."
Taj Burrow (AUS), 34, looked sharp in his Round 4 bout. Burrow combined an array of turns and airs to advance directly to the Quarterfinals over high-flying Brazilian Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, and dangerous goofy-footer Travis Logie (ZAF), 33. "I'm having fun," Burrow said. "The conditions aren't great, they're a little bit slow, but I actually connected quite a few good waves in that heat, so I was pretty lucky. Even on the good ones, they were pretty tricky to ride. I hit a few lumps. I got lots of good turns, but I fell twice on an air. Three man's pretty tough, but I was happy that I got a couple."
Burrow, current No. 7 on the ASP WCT, finished equal 13th in both France and Portugal and the progressive Australian feels his Round 4 success could be the rebound towards a strong result at the O'Neill Coldwater Classic. "I'm feeling really good because I haven't had a good heat yet and I've just picked a new board that feels a bit sparkier," Burrow said. "I feel like my best is yet to come and I'm going to try and peak at the right time for a change. I feel like I'm on my way to doing that."
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 24, former O'Neill Coldwater Classic winner (2010), was electric on his backhand today, taking wins in both Rounds 3 and 4 to earn his best result of the season. Wilkinson, current No. 30 on the ASP WCT, was in need of a major result to remain among the ASP Top 34 for 2013 and his advancement to the Quarterfinals will vault him to a more stable position on the rankings. "This result is massive for me," Wilkinson said. "It's the first time I've passed that third round this year. I'm freaking out. I know I really need points, so that feels good."
Up first tomorrow morning will be Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, against Alejo Muniz (BRA), 22, in Heat 1 of Round 5. Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:15am local time for a possible 6:45 start. To watch the O'Neill Coldwater Classic LIVE log on to www.oneill.com/cwc/
O'NEILL COLDWATER CLASSIC ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.47, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.13, Travis Logie (ZAF) 12.67
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.77, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.93, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 7.37
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.87, Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.50, Kelly Slater (USA) 13.00
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 16.60, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.20, Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.37
O'NEILL COLDWATER CLASSIC ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.50 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 8.66
Heat 10: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.83 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 14.00
Heat 11: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.26 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.56
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.97 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 15.23