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Women Debut, Competitors Overpower Steamer Lane at O’Neill Cold Water Classic

The World Surf League (WSL) North America contingent overpowered Steamer Lane’s tricky conditions at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, a North America Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000, to put on dynamic displays. Three-to-four foot swell continued to provide opportunities for the men’s Round of 64, Heats 9 - 16, and women’s debut, Round of 40 and 32 bouts. The top seeds continued to show their power while emerging event threats also staked their claim moving forward.An incredible debut from Izzi Gomez (COL) delivered near-perfection with her aggressive forehand attack, posting a 9.07 (out of a possible 10) and 14.57 (out of a possible 20) heat total, both a day’s best.

Pictured: Izzi Gomez (COL) built her foundation before posting the event's highest single-scoring wave so far of a 9.07. Credit: © WSL / Nichols

Gomez looks to bounce back from an early exit in Jacksonville Beach and showed her determination with a Round of 32 showcase. Now, the South Florida competitor looks for more in the jersey moving into the Round of 16.

“That felt really good, I honestly haven't had good results this year and even just one score will wash all of that away,” said Gomez. “I'm happy of the outcome of this event no matter what happens and I'm stoked to surf The Lane with just three other people. I've never done the Cold Water Classic and the only other time I tried to compete here it got cancelled so I'm stoked."

Eden Walla (USA) took the women’s debuts by storm, showing her technical ability in the tough conditions to post a 7.83 (out of a possible 10) in her Round of 40 debut before taking on the top-seeded, Round of 32. Walla faced off with 2023 standout Bella Kenworthy (USA) alongside Santa Cruz’s own Keanna Miller and Esme Brigham, and posted a 7.50 to take control of the heat.

“I just tried to have fun, be on the best waves in the heat and just surf my best,” said Walla. “I was just trying to back up my six and it ended up being a really good wave. I was stoked on that wave. Steamer Lane is such a weird wave, one day it's like it was but then another day it's completely different."Current North America No. 1, and defending event winner, Zoe Benedetto (USA) returned to the Steamer Lane arena in winning form once more. A Quarterfinal result in Jacksonville Beach helped push Benedetto atop the rankings as she now looks to add more success to her 2023/2024 season with a third Final appearance.

“It feels nice to be and I'm always a little nervous in my first few heats at Santa Cruz just because it is a difficult wave,” said Benedetto. “I'm happy to get that out of the way, the end of that heat was a bit weird so glad I made it. Now I'm excited to surf again.”

Also putting on a showcase to earn pivotal Round of 32 wins, Avery McDonald (USA), Reid Van Wagoner (USA), Taylor Stacy (USA), and Mathea Dempfle-Olin (CAN).Men's Round of 96 Concludes, Explosive Performances Ensue

Future Championship Tour (CT) 2024 rookie Kade Matson (USA) showcased his powerful forehand that helped secure his place among the world’s best. Matson controlled his Round of 64 debut from start to finish, capping off the heat with an excellent 8.00 and 14.33 heat total.

“It was fun even though it was kinda slow and tricky with the high tide, but I was stoked to get a couple fun waves,” said Matson. “It feels good to qualify for the CT. It was a life goal so I'm really stoked on that and stoked to be at my first pressure-free event of my life so it's great to be here with my friends.” One Matson’s mentors, former CT competitor and defending event winner, Kolohe Andino (USA) returns to Steamer Lane for his title defense and started with a clutch Round of 64 win. Andino’s son was born just days before the event got underway and made the charge up for his shot at back-to-back O’Neill Cold Water Classic wins.

“It's always tricky in the first heat after it pumps all morning then it gets a little slow,” said Andino. “We did the 'Smooch' movie tour and then that was about two weeks, then I went straight home to the birth of my son. Then got the green light from the wife to compete and see how far I can go into the competition. I feel like I'm already winning with my wife and kids being healthy.”

Fellow San Clemente competitor Luke Wyler also posted an excellent 8.17 to continue his surge through competition and is joined into the Round of 32 by 2022 event runner-up Taro Watanabe (USA) and in-form competitors Ryan Huckabee (USA), Jabe Swierkocki (USA), Will Deane (USA), and Owen Moss (USA).

Event organizers will convene at 7:00 a.m. PST to determine a possible 7:30 a.m. HST start.

Watch LIVE:

The O’Neill Cold Water Classic will be streamed live November 15 - 19 at, the free WSL App, and WSL Youtube channel.

O'Neill Cold Water Classic Men's Round of 64, Heats 9 - 16 Results:

HEAT 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.23 DEF. Jake Davis (USA) 11.17, Torrey Meister (HAW) 10.04, Lucas Pazolini (BRA) 7.17

HEAT 10: Owen Moss (USA) 12.00 DEF. Ryland Rubens (USA) 9.66, Giorgio Gomez (COL) 6.83, Tucker Collins (USA) 4.13

HEAT 11: Will Deane (USA) 10.77 DEF. Michael Dunphy (USA) 9.30, Bud Freitas (USA) 8.67, Makaiah Spiess (USA) 3.83

HEAT 12: Luke Wyler (USA) 10.94 DEF. Quaid Fahrion (USA) 7.16, Taj Lindblad (USA) 5.17, Kei Kobayashi (USA) 2.34

HEAT 13: Kade Matson (USA) 14.33 DEF. Lucas Owston (USA) 10.50, Kepa Mendia (USA) 9.10, Keanu Igarashi (USA) 5.07

HEAT 14: Taro Watanabe (USA) 10.67 DEF. Cannon Carr (USA) 9.67, Timothy Fandey (USA) 7.17, Sebastian Mendes (USA) 4.83

HEAT 15: Ryan Huckabee (USA) 12.40 DEF. Blayr Barton (USA) 11.26, Tony Nunez (HAW) 8.07, Ty Burgess (USA) 6.26

HEAT 16: Jabe Swierkocki (USA) 12.50 DEF. Sage Guinaldo (USA) 8.57, Philippe Chagas (BRA) 6.66, Max Beach (USA) 5.97

O'Neill Cold Water Classic Women's Round of 32 Results:

HEAT 1: Zoe Benedetto (USA) 9.20 DEF. Sara Freyre (USA) 6.60, Remy Todd (USA) 6.53, Samantha Sibley (USA) 6.17

HEAT 2: Daya McCart (USA) 9.17 DEF. Autumn Hays (USA) 7.87, Vela Mattive (USA) 7.07, Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 6.50

HEAT 3: Taylor Stacy (USA) 11.60 DEF. Talia Swindal (USA) 10.53, Zoe Chait (USA) 6.13, Kaydn Persidok (USA) 3.13

HEAT 4: Avery McDonald (USA) 13.90 DEF. Ella McCaffray (USA) 11.17, Maddie Storrer (USA) 8.87, Emma Stone (USA) 7.20

HEAT 5: Eden Walla (USA) 13.83 DEF. Esme Brigham (USA) 11.46, Bella Kenworthy (USA) 9.64, Keanna Miller (USA) 5.33

HEAT 6: Izzi Gomez (COL) 14.57 DEF. Mia McLeish (USA) 11.23, Kaia Howard (USA) 9.30, Alana Lopez (USA) 8.07

HEAT 7: Reid Van Wagoner (USA) 11.13 DEF. Sanoa Dempfle-Olin (CAN) 9.26, Lilie Kulber (USA) 7.87, Ellie Barimo (USA) 7.34

HEAT 8: Mathea Dempfle-Olin (CAN) 11.74 DEF. Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 8.30, Mia Moore (USA) 7.17, Rachel Wilson (USA) 6.93

O'Neill Cold Water Classic Women's Round of 40 Results:

HEAT 1: Sara Freyre (USA) 8.34 DEF. Daya McCart (USA) 7.83, Candelaria Resano (NIC) 7.33, Addison McPhillips (USA) 6.33

HEAT 2: Kaydn Persidok (USA) 9.84 DEF. Maddie Storrer (USA) 8.26, Maddie Stanton (USA) 7.67, Ava Wagester (USA) 6.73

HEAT 3: Eden Walla (USA) 10.56 DEF. Alana Lopez (USA) 9.66, Ashley Held (USA) 6.23, Malia Ward (USA) 4.97

HEAT 4: Reid Van Wagoner (USA) 6.90 DEF. Mia Moore (USA) 5.00, Jessie Engel (USA) 3.70, Hana Johnson (USA) 3.03


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