Rob Machado, Melanie Bartels Claim Foster’s Pro Surfing Titles

SANTA CRUZ, California — Against the backdrop of near perfect conditions and record crowds at legendary Steamer Lane, Americans Kieran Horn and Melanie Bartels won their respective divisions of the $30,000 O’Neill Cold Water Classic.  The arena-like venue for the famed reef/point break was the setting for the finale of the 2003 Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour.  After eight events staged across four states, the $500,000 Foster’s Tour crowned Rob Machado and Bartels as Tour and Surfing America Champions.

Horn, one of several local competitors with huge crowd support, finished ahead of Shaun Ward, Machado and Chris Drummy to pocket $5,000.  Tim Reyes took Cold Water Classic honorable mention consideration by scoring the best wave (9.0) and best average heat points (15.75) in the men’s division.

Although he finished third in the Foster’s Tour finale, Machado was able to cruise to his second U.S. Title after having built a comfortable ratings lead heading into the event.  The former World Championship Tour (WCT) standout received a bonus check for $10,000 in addition to the third place prize of $2,000.

Bartels looked at home in the pounding surf finishing ahead of Claire Bevilacqua, Siri Cota and Anastasia Ashley.   Bartels, who is near qualifying for the 2004 WCT, finished the season the way she started in the first women’s event at Trestles, a finalist.  The 21 year-old Hawaiian, needing a second place finish or better to capture the overall title, took home $2,000 along with a Foster’s Tour bonus of $3,000.

“Surfing America would like to thank Foster’s and all of the individual event sponsors for their support, said Mike Gerard, Surfing America’s executive director.   “Also, the office staff, event organizers, directors, and of course all of the athletes deserve credit for a job well done on what was the best domestic Tour in nearly twenty years.”

“It’s been a great year and Foster’s is already looking forward to 2004, said Nick Foster, a representative from Foster’s Connecticut-based promotions agency, SMRI.

The eight event Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour incorporates all WQS-rated events in North America and is the stepping stone to the Association of Surfing Professionals’ (ASP) elite World Championship Tour (WCT).  This year’s circuit includes stops in Florida, California, New Jersey and North Carolina.  The Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour is sanctioned and administered by Surfing America, the nonprofit governing body for amateur and professional surfing in America.

Final 2003 Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour Standings

1.  Rob Machado (3650 points)
2.  Tim Reyes (2631)
3.  Jesse Merle-Jones (2068)
4.  Gabe Kling (1900)
5.  Chris Ward (1880)

1.  Melanie Bartels (2253 points)
2.  Prue Jefffries (2215)
3.  Holly Beck (2016)
4.  Jodie Nelson (2014)
5.  Kyla Langen (1514)