The homestretch of the 2011 ASP season starts in Santa Cruz with the O'Neill Cold Water Classic. This is when every point, and every result counts. Nobody knows this better than 17-year-old Kolohe Andino, who's coming off of two monster Six-star wins in Brazil, and now appears poised to graduate to the World Tour for the start of the 2012 season.
Currently sitting 28 on the ASP's One World Ranking, a result in Northern California would go a long way in solidifying Andino's prospects, and considering he started things off with the highest heat score of Round One at the Cold Water, it would appear he's intent on doing just that.
"I'm not trying to think about how well I did in Brazil or what I have to do to qualify, I'm just out there to have fun right now," said Andino after his heat. "Obviously the confidence is there, but I'm not thriving on it and am just taking it one heat at a time. My boards feel great and I'm excited for the next round."
Andino's a key player in the youth movement that's currently taking surfing by storm, but hardly the only one. Mason Ho, Luke Davis, Evan Geiselman, and former Cold Water Champ and local fixture Nat Young were also winners on the day. Held in inconsistent two to four-foot conditions, a lot of heats were slow and somewhat wave starved, which may have been to the lighter, more youthful surfers' advantage.
"I was really nervous and kind of hassling a lot out there,"said Young. "It felt good to get that one out of the way. I surf out here more than anyone and that's nice. I know which waves I want and the heat was a little tough because it's low tide and we're all hassling each other and pushing each other out of position."
Other notables to move on into the next round include Julian Wilson, Chris Davidson, former winner Nate Yeomans, and defending champ Matt Wilkinson.
"It feels good to get that first heat out of the way," Wilkinson said. "I hadn't surfed out there since I was here last year and I was kind of nervous ... but I know I can win here, so I guess there is as much pressure as confidence."
The current surf forecast is calling for a slight rise in south swell over the next couple of days, so we can hopefully expect some improvement in the conditions, although don't expect it to be massive. Stay tuned as the plot is sure to thicken.
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Mason Ho (HAW) 12.53, Jason Collins (USA) 12.10, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 11.87, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.03
Heat 2: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 12.37, Cory Lopez (USA) 9.20, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 7.24, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 4.83
Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.63, Richard Christie (NZL) 13.90, Michael Dunphy (USA) 9.93, Rudy Palmboom (ZAF) 9.06
Heat 4: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.90, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.23, Adam Robertson (AUS) 12.07, Sunny Garcia (AUS) 11.87
Heat 5: Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 13.10, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 11.77, Gavin Gillette (HAW) 10.86, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 9.37
Heat 6: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.94, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 12.50, Austin Ware (USA) 11.33, Tim Reyes (USA) 10.90
Heat 7: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.34, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 9.80, Brian Toth (PRI) 7.17, Roy Powers (HAW) 7.16
Heat 8: Luke Davis (USA) 15.37, Joel Centeio (HAW) 10.60, Alain Riou (PYF) 8.03, Nicholas Squires (AUS) 7.40
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) 15.27, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.30, Heath Joske (AUS) 12.24, Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 7.17
Heat 10: Dusty Payne (HAW) 15.67, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 13.84, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.73, Dale Staples (ZAF) 8.47
Heat 11: Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.50, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 11.07, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.77, Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) 6.66
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.47, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 13.10, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.86, Matt Myers (USA) 9.90