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Waves return to Coldwater Classic, then turn a cold shoulder

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 6th, 2012

Gabriel Medina of Brazil executes a 360-degree airborne turn Sunday, earning him enough points to advance during Round 3 of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic surf contest ongoing at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, where thousands of visitors flocked. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)



SANTA CRUZ — Mother Nature came forward Sunday, doling out some reasonably sized surf for the annual O’Neill Coldwater Classic that reached its fourth day on the west side of Santa Cruz.

Surfers wasted no time in wrapping up Round 2 and nearly completing Round 3 at Steamer Lane on the ninth of 10 stops on the Association of Surfing Professionals tour.

A major shakeup Sunday came when local star Nat Young, 21, was outdone by Australian Joel Parkinson, who may be on his way to his first world title.

Gabriel Medina, 18, of Brazil out-shined American Taylor Knox, 41, in a Round 3 heat to advance.

“I was watching the waves before my heat,” Medina said, “and I got an idea of what was coming. The wind was good and I felt I could get air (airborne) with the right wave. You can hear the crowd screaming from out there and that really helps.”

Officials estimated that about 10,000 fans clung to the cliffs to view the event. Enthusiasm was high as each heat unfolded in 75-degree sunny weather. Roars from the crowds seemed to coax the surfers on, as each of them pulled out their most dazzling tricks in hopes of wooing the panel of judges.

Several stands of bleachers have been erected close to the cliff’s edge for spectators and a handful of tents are sprinkled along West Cliff Drive with merchandise for sale, the judges’ tent and such.

The excitement, however, ground to a halt Monday after the swell all but disappeared. While Sunday brought head-high rollers that gave surfers both left and right rides, Monday fizzled out and officials once again stopped the event in hopes that greater surf will reappear.

Originating in 1987, the event has taken on various incarnations over the past three decades. This year it has upgraded to an ASP World Championship Tour event in celebration of O’Neill’s surf company’s 60th anniversary. As the second to the last stop on the World Tour, the competition offers a lofty $425,000 purse.

The event continues today, starting at 6:15 a.m., surf permitting.

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