The World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) heads back for another installment of the iconic O’Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1,000. The famed venue of Steamer Lane will host men’s and women’s competition once more to provide a world-class stop on the 2023/2024 schedule. Competition will begin November 15 - 19 with a live broadcast set to bring the event, and Santa Cruz, California’s well-known surf community, around the world.
Pictured: Steamer Lane's famed lineup brings North America's premier competitors back for another year of competition to Santa Cruz's esteemed history. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring the Cold Water Classic back again this year,” said Greg Clarke, VP of Product and Marketing for O’Neill. “The event brings our surf community together like no other, and it’s always a pleasure to watch world-class surfers put our world-class waves at The Lane to the test.”
The venue of Steamer Lane is synonymous with cold water perfection when swell pulses into the famed lineup. The wave has provided some of this event’s incredible history since 1985 including wins from the likes of three-time WSL Champion Tom Curren (USA), WSL Big Wave Champion and Santa Cruz’s own, Peter Mel (USA), World Title contender Jordy Smith (RSA), former CT elite, Santa Cruz’s Nat Young (USA), and more. Along with Young, a plethora of Santa Cruz competitors are ready to do their best and bring the event title back home after Kolohe Andino’s (USA) victory in 2022. An incredible showing from free surf extraordinaire Ian Crane (USA) provided fireworks throughout the event until falling to Andino in the Semifinals and now returns to the famed lineup ready for more.
“Cold Water Classic, O'Neill, Santa Cruz, it just has every aspect everyone's looking for and just piece of that culture an surf history,” said Crane. “The wave itself is so good. If The Lane lights up, it has such a high bar for the level of surfing that can go down. The level of surfers that are competing in this event is super high and it's just the whole aspect of the cliff and the amphitheatre, and the environment that The Lane has it's just a no-brainer for fun action for everyone.”
Looking to keep the event win in Santa Cruz, Ben and Sam Coffey (USA), Shaun Burns (USA), Nat Young (USA) and more will have to fend off a stacked field. Defending event victor Andino, 2022 runner-up Taro Watanabe (USA), QS veteran threat Michael Dunphy (USA), 2023 Challenger Series standouts Kade Matson (USA) and Jett Schilling (USA) and more look for a piece of Santa Cruz history for themselves.For the women, recent Challenger Series standout and current North America No. 3, Zoe Benedetto (USA), claimed her first West Coast QS victory in blazing fashion. 2022 marked the first women’s WSL event at Steamer Lane since before 2004 and Autumn Hays (USA), Semifinalist, looks to represent for her hometown once more while pushing further into competition.
“It was so cool to be able to do this contest,” said Hays. “I have so many good memories from the Cold Water and I remember in 2012 when it was a CT, I was 13-years-old and it was just the highlight of my year. And for it to come back and compete in it was so special. When I got third last year it felt like I won the competition because everyone came out and there was just no time to be bummed. It literally felt like I won.”
Hays will be joined by some of North America's rising talents including Benedetto, Bella Kenworthy (USA), Sanoa Dempfle-Olin (CAN), 2023 Regional Pro Junior titleholder Talia Swindal (USA), and many more.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic will be streamed live November 15 - 19 at WorldSurfLeague.com, the free WSL App, and WSL Youtube channel.
About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is the global home of competitive surfing, crowning the undisputed World Champions since 1976 and showcasing the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves. WSL is comprised of the Tours and Competition division, which oversees and operates more than 180 global competitions each year; WSL WaveCo, home of the world's largest high-performance, human-made wave; and WSL Studios, an independent producer of unscripted and scripted projects.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.