NAT YOUNG WINS O'NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC
Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA) won the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 4-Star O’Neill Cold Water Classic in great four-to-six foot surf in front of his home crowd at Steamer Lane. Young defeated fellow finalists Chris Waring (Seal Beach, CA), 21, Granger Larsen (Lahaina, HI), 18, and Sean Moody (North Shore, HI), 25, and reclaimed the O’Neill Cold Water Classic title for the Santa Cruz locals in a close Final.
The ASP WQS offers valuable ratings points towards qualification for the ASP World Tour. Each surfer looks to earn a top 15 position on the ASP WQS by year’s end in order to qualify for the ASP Dream Tour for the following year.
Young came out on top after a nail-biting Final against his fellow competitors. The Steamer Lane local displayed some of the best backside surfing throughout the event and continued his amazing form to claim the O’Neill Cold Water Classic win.
“I’m super excited,” Young said. “I lost in the junior’s and just wanted to do good in this. Just making the Final in this was good, and to win itâ€¦”
Young’s Final berth came after a long day of competition. The goofy-footer won both his Quarterfinals and Semifinals heats in the last few minutes of each heat on the way to his event victory. Young ousted fellow Santa Cruz locals Jason Collins (Santa Cruz, CA), 34, and Randy Bonds (Santa Cruz, CA), 31, in his Semifinals heat, taking top honors over his local idols.
“It’s been a long day,” Young said. “I’ve been in my wetsuit since about 7 a.m. and I squeaked through a couple of heats and made the Final and everyone was surfing so good.”
Young also finished second on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series and will go to Australia to represent America at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. Young is looking forward to his first experience at the contest in Narrabeen, Australia.
“It’s my first time in that contest, so I’m excited,” Young said. "There’s a bunch of good guys there and it’s going to be a great learning experience.
Larsen, who finished third, caught a wave in the last few seconds of the Final and could have potentially stolen the lead from Young. Unfortunately for Larsen, he did not find the score needed to take the win, but still was happy with his first ASP WQS Final appearance.
“This is my first WQS Final so I’m really psyched right now,” Larsen said. “I’m just stoked to be in the Final and I’m super psyched, just over the moon.”
Larsen ousted local standout Bud Freitas (Santa Cruz, CA), 24, with an impressive performance in his Semifinals heat. Freitas had been unstoppable up until the Semifinals, earning some of the event’s highest scores, but Larsen notched the score needed in the last few minutes of his heat to end the local’s chances at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic title.
“My board was working good on those medium sized ones, and those are the best waves that come in,” Larsen said. “I had one that was a full horseshoe that was coming at me and I was able to hit it at the end.”
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic also marked the final event on the Macy’s California Trifecta Surf Series, an ASP specialty series, which offered an additional $15,000 prize purse to the series winner. Micah Byrne (Huntington Beach, CA), 27, claimed this year’s Trifecta title and $10,000 paycheck by advancing into the Semifinals.
“I’m so stoked,” Byrne said. “I knew I had a lot of ground to make up in the beginning because of Asher (Nolan), and Kieran (Horn) is almost guaranteed a Final here every time, so I wasn’t stressed until the last day or two. I couldn’t even sleep last night.”
Asher Nolan (Jacksonville, FL), 30, with an equal 33rd finish in the O’Neill Cold Water Classic came in second on the Trifecta to pocket $3,500. Nate Yeomans (San Clemente, CA) who didn’t compete in the event, finished third and garnered $1,500 in the final Trifecta standings thanks to a strong performance at Lower Trestles and the win at the Oakley Newport Beach Pro.