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Monday, October 31, 2011
Pupo runs away with Cold Water Classic

By Jake Howard

With his win at the Cold Water today Classic Miguel Pupo has more or less locked in his spot on the 2012 ASP World Tour.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 3 Day 4 Final

In dominating fashion 19-year-old Brazilian Miguel Pupo has won the 2011 O'Neill Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz and claimed the overall Cold Water Classic crown.

As morning broke in Santa Cruz with nary a ripple at Steamer Lane, the contest was once again forced to relocate up Highway One to the marginal beachbreak that is Waddell Creek, which very much played into Pupo's favor.

"I feel unbelievable right now," said Pupo while the corks were still flying. "I was feeling comfortable out there and I was just trying to surf my best and I won. I've been surfing a beachbreak my whole life and I'm used to these waves. I was really lucky that we moved to here. It could have been a different story if we ran at The Lane."

Humility's a funny thing, because judging on how he was surfing throughout the day, nobody even came close to posting the wave scores that Pupo was. In his quarterfinal match-up against Nat Young he posted two nine-point scores to run away with the heat.

After a showing like that one might assume the youngster had spent his best effort, but that was hardly the case. He did ease off the gas slightly in the semis, where he earned a 15-point heat total -- but it wasn't much of an issue considering his competitor and fellow countryman Willian Cardoso's heat score didn't even break double digits. In the final he poured it on again, earning a near perfect heat score of 18.93, while fellow finalist and World Tour vet finished with an 11.20.

As a spectator, surfer, and especially as a contest organizer you never want to hear somebody get out of the water and apologize to their opponent, but that's exactly what Pires did after ousting Tom Whitaker. "It's very slow out there, not very many waves, it's not the way you want to win. I feel bad for Tom," said Pires.

That more or less sums up the surf that was on offer throughout the day. Some heats had a more waves than others, while some were plagued by uncooperative tidal conditions, but all told waist high and crumbly is not the ideal for events of this caliber and rating. But then again, that's the name of the game, win in anything, and as Pupo proved, the scores were out the if you had the talent to earn them.

"Miguel put on a show and I have to take my hat off to him," added Pires at day's end. "He's one of the best surfers in the world in these conditions and he deserves it. I'm stoked I got second and this result is going to help my result on the World Rankings so I'm really happy."

For the effort Pupo moves up to 18 on the ASP World Ranking, and will more than likely graduate to the World Tour in 2012. "Those points are going to help me a lot and this is a really important result for me going in to the rest of the year," Pupo said. "To get the points and win $90,000 today, I'm so happy" (Pupo recieved a $50,000 bonus for winning the three-stop Cold Water series).

If we've learned anything this week -- and this year -- it's that the young Brazilians are damn hard to beat. The shot across the bow was when 17-year-old Gabriel Medina qualified for the tour at the mid-year cutoff, now Pupo will be joining him, and you're kidding yourself if you don't think there aren't a handful of other kids waiting in the wings.

1. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 18.93
2. Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.20

SF 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.33 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.80
SF 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.43

QF 1: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.00 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.00
QF 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 19.14 def. Nat Young (USA) 13.16
QF 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.56 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 7.93
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.33

Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.43 def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 10.00
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.00 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 6.17
Heat 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.50 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 6.24
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 5.90