Under the threat of stormy conditions, the Cold Water Classic began its five-day run at Steamer Lane on Wednesday. The long-standing surfing contest was first held in 1987 and returned last year as a Qualifying Series 1000 on the World Surfing League schedule.
“Surf contests are tricky. You go to play with the conditions. So we are just kind of on standby all day today to run the event,” said events coordinator Shaun Burns of O’Neill.
While the rain held off until the end of the day, a small swell and the high tide made for weak surfing conditions according to spectators.
The tournament includes both men and women surfers from around the world. Yesterday, 96 men began the contest in heats of four with only the top two scorers from each heat moving on. A team of five judges rated and scored each ride.
In the shed perched atop the bluff, local surfing-veterans Peter Mel and Adam Replogle announced the proceedings in their distinctive surfer-brogue, praising the next generation of “local-boys.”
The locals needed the hype as many lost in the early rounds. In day-one action, locals Ben Coffey fell in the first round and John Mel lost his round 64. In the last heat of the day as strong gusts moved in from the bay and the waves flattened out, ex-champion of the event Nat Young got into second place with a strong run, but O’Neill-sponsored Timmy Reyes pulled off a last-minute line, displacing Young.
“Sometimes being a local will actually be a disadvantage. Well one, you got the pressure. Two, you are catching waves out here on the regular that are really good. You’re out here surfing on a day that is below average in a contest there is a lot more pressure,” said Replogle.
Local surfer Sam Coffey advanced into round 32 after some serious shredding. Qualifier Adam Bartlett advanced and Shaun Burns who was also competing advanced.
Throughout the day a crowd of passersby-s, tourists, and surfing-families from around the world watched-on from the studium-like bluff as the drone of commentary filled the tableau.
Lino Chávez from Watsonville likes to come to Lighthouse Point to relax, but decided to see the contest for the first time: “I like to watch it. I like coming out here and watching these guys. You get some pretty good guys out here doing some pretty neat tricks just hounding them waves. It’s too bad it wasn’t a little bigger [the waves]. It’s probably technique, you know how they stay on and ride it.”
If you go: November 15th-19th from 7:30-sunset (times may vary) at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.