World Surf League (WSL) North America is excited to announce that the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, a men’s and women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, will make a big return to Santa Cruz, California’s famous Steamer Lane. One of the region’s premier righthand pointbreaks, Steamer Lane’s history is rich in surf history and now provides a vital stop for Challenger Series (CS) qualification points.
Pictured: A highly-anticipated return to one of the world's premier surfing arenas at Steamer Lane has become a reality. Credit: © WSL / Prefontaine
The event’s illustrious history is rooted deep in surf culture since 1987. The likes of three-time WSL Champion Tom Curren (USA), 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), 1989 WSL Champion Martin Potter (GBR), WSL Big Wave Champion and Santa Cruz's own Peter Mel (USA), World Title contender Jordy Smith (RSA), world-renowned surfer Bobby Martinez (USA), and more all have claimed respective wins at Steamer Lane. "O'Neill is ecstatic to have the Cold Water Classic back at its hometown of Santa Cruz,” said O’Neill Wetsuits Team and Events Manager Shaun Burns. “This event has so much history and we are looking forward to making more. Santa Cruz deserves to have a professional surfing event like this because of its surfing history, core surfing community and world-class waves. We are excited to see the men and women compete on the long-walled waves of Steamer Lane."
Along with Mel, a long list of Santa Cruz locals have claimed big wins for their hometown at the Cold Water Classic including Anthony Ruffo, Chris Gallagher, Adam Replogle, Kieran Horn and Championship Tour (CT) competitor Nat Young (USA), who was the youngest to do so at age 17. Young developed his signature, world-class backhand at Steamer Lane and fought his way back to the elite CT full-time for the 2022 season – after falling off in 2017. With his spot secure for 2023, this event is a special one, as one of the first contests Young competed in at the QS level and now returns with no stress of requalifying. "It's pretty epic to have the Cold Water Classic back after all these years," said Young. "It's been over ten years since I've done it and it's awesome to have back since the event is such a big part of the surf culture up here in Santa Cruz. It's really good for the next generation as well because it's such an iconic event. You look back and the whole cliff is just lined with people, and you can hear all of them out there while you're in the water. (The Lane) has the atmosphere of an arena more than anywhere else in the world."
Fellow CT competitors Griffin Colapinto (USA) and Kolohe Andino (USA) join the list of heavy-hitters as Andino makes his highly-anticipated return to Steamer Lane. Both will push regional standouts such as Santa Cruz’s own John Mel (USA) and Sam Coffey (USA), and a plethora of men looking to claim the prestigious O’Neill Cold Water Classic title.
Women Set to Take on “The Lane”
Pictured: Santa Cruz's Autumn Hays grew up surfing the righthander of Steamer Lane, taking that around the world, and now has the opportunity to compete at home for valuable points. Credit: © WSL / RunAmuck Photography The women are back at the iconic righthander after the 2004 event was canceled and some of the region's top talents are looking to capitalize on being a part of history. Now, the likes of Santa Cruz’s Autumn Hays, Keanna Miller, and Esme Brigham can contest for vital points toward their respective Challenger Series qualification hunts at home. “I’m at so excited to have Cold Water Classic back on the schedule,” said Hays. “It’s always so fun to compete at home and I don’t get to do it often. I remember being in middle school and watching all of my idols surf my home break. My sponsor was able to get me a pass to go in the competitors tent where I was able to meet all the guys on the CT. This was also the year nat young got the wildcard and it was so fun cheering him on.”
It will be no easy task with current North America No. 3 Zoe Benedetto (USA), recent WRV Outer Banks Pro Finalist Noah Klapp (DEU), rising regional threat Talia Swindal (USA), and many more all in the draw.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic QS 1,000 will run November 15 – 19 at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.
For more information, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.