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|Josh Kerr was unhindered by an interference call and lived to surf another day.|
Cold Water Classic organizers spent Thursday morning pondering their options. With a minor combo swell in the water, and a very large high tide around 9:00, Steamer Lane was looking more like a lake. They debated moving up Highway 1 to Waddel Creek (which if somebody's ever going to get eaten by a Great White in competition, it might just happen there), but ultimately they just put the comp on hold, waited for the tide to drain out and by about noon things were back underway in Santa Cruz proper.
And while fans, hippies and hipsters alike lined West Cliff Drive in anticipation of the action, the surfers themselves busied themselves developing strategies on how to deal with the adverse aquatic offerings. But essentially it all boiled down to who was a better hassler, who was able to back paddle and push their fellow competitors out of the limited take-off zone.
"There was a bit of hassling going on behind the rock," confirmed World Tour vet Josh Kerr, who lived to surf another day despite and interference call. "Cory (Arrambide) and I had a little tussle and we pushed each other too deep. I didn't think he was going to get a wave and he did and I got the interference. Everyone ended up hassling themselves too deep and I got the best wave of the heat in the end so it worked out."
Hassling is the part of the sport that relatively recent ASP rule changes have sought to eliminate. It's the reason the World Tour uses the two-man format and implemented the priority system. But competitors in Prime and Star events aren't so fortunate, and when conditions are slow and wave supply limited, it's win at all cost, even if you have to paddle over somebody.
Of course, knowing the lineup helps considerably, as evidence by Monterey local Jonny Craft, who breezed through his heat. "I was really stoked that I got my first wave right when the horn blew," Craft would explain afterwards. "That kind of started my heat and got my confidence going."
It must be noted that World Tour rookie Gabriel Medina was in Craft's heat, but was penalized by an interference call midway through the heat due to "an illegal board exchange," and was thusly bounced out of the contest. He'll spend the next week roaming the Northern California countryside until the start of the Rip Curl Search in San Francisco next week. It would probably be fair to say that Brazilians and cold water don't mix very well, as he'll have plenty of Portuguese-speaking brethren to keep him company. Alejo Muniz, Yuri Sodre, Junior Faria, and Jeronimo Vargas will join Medina in the cheering section as they were all sent packing in round one.
The other storyline worth noting is that apparently world tour surfers aren't all that fond of cold water (or hassling) either. Medina, Muniz, Kieren Perrow, Gabe Kling, and Taylor Knox all came up short, in essence opening up the field to any number of potential winners. Luckily there are plenty of fun little nooks and crannies up and down the coast to keep them interested until things get more serious in San Francisco, where a promising forecast awaits them at the start of the waiting period on Tuesday.
Round one is in the books, and conditions providing, they'll be jamming through round two next either at Steamer Lane or Waddel Creek. Stay tuned.
O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC CALIFORNIA ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 13: Jonny Craft (USA) 13.16, Randy Bonds (USA) 9.10, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 10.23, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 5.42
Heat 14: Daniel Ross (AUS) 14.76, Adam Melling (AUS) 12.37, Sebastien Zietz (HAW) 8.83, Yuri Sodre (BRA) 8.50
Heat 15: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.23, Charles Martin (GLP) 14.87, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 10.50, Junior Faria (BRA) 9.00
Heat 16: Stu Kennedy (AUS) 10.33, John Florence (HAW) 10.33, Eric Geiselman (USA) 10.27, Royden Bryson (ZAF) 4.97
Heat 17: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 12.67, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.36, Romain Cloitre (FRA) 11.17, Chris Waring (USA) 7.20
Heat 18: Travis Logie (ZAF) 14.64, Granger Larsen (HAW) 13.86, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 13.50, Adrien Toyon (REU) 8.40
Heat 19: Tonino Benson (HAW) 12.10, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.93, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 8.86, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.50
Heat 20: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.20, Kai Barger (HAW) 12.54, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 11.23, Cory Arrambide (USA) 10.86
Heat 21: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 12.70, Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 10.80, Gabe Kling (USA) 8.37, Taylor Knox (USA) 6.86