O’Neill Cold Water Classic California

The top seeds competing at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME O’Neill Cold Water Classic California took to the water in clean four-foot (1 metre) conditions at the famed California Pointbreak of Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz today and the premier surfers crushed the event’s highest scores while the local favorites fell early.

All surfers competing in the ASP 6-Star PRIME event are looking to capitalize on the crucial ratings points on offer at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic to solidify their spot on the 2010 ASP Dream Tour before heading to Hawaii.

Reyes, who suffered a horrific knee injury which nearly ended his career at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in 2007, donned a singlet at Steamer Lane for the first time since the accident and absolutely dominated his heat, clinching the event’s highest heat total, a 17.83 out of 20, to lead the event’s top seeds into the Round of 48.

“This was my first heat back at Steamer Lane since the injury, so it’s nice to have a good heat back,” Reyes said. “I’ve been surfing here ever since the injury, I just hadn’t had time to compete here because I was going to Hawaii earlier. I got a couple of nice waves in that heat, they were glassy and easy to surf. Most of the time, the lane is a really challenging wave, but today was easy.”

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Leonardo Neves

After a couple of days off due to small surf and unfavorable winds, the ASP WQS 6-Star Prime Islas Canarias Santa Pro kicked-off in clean three-to-four foot (1 to 1.2 meter) waves at the back-up venue of La Santa today, off-shore wind direction and consistent sets giving the first ten heats of Round 1 a playful line-up.

Back-up venue of this year’s Islas Canarias Santa Pro, the long righthand pointbreak of La Santa witnessed the assault of some of the world’s best surfers including current members of the ASP Top 45 battling with potential qualifiers for valuable ratings’ points and dollars.

Leonardo Neves (BRA), 30, a former ASP Top 45 member, showed he was ready to get on with his Canarian campaign displaying solid surfing with a mix of power-turns and fins-out frontside top turns to net the day’s highest heat score of 15.83 points (out of a possible 20).

“I love Lanzarote and I am enjoying my time here so I guess it showed in my surfing for that first heat,” Neves said. “The waves were fun but you had to be patient and I waited for two good waves to secure some points. I am stoked to surf such fun waves and it’s a relief to get passed Round 1.”

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Mavericks Surf Contest 2009/2010

The waiting period for the 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest® presented by Sony Ericsson has officially begun.

On a picture perfect Friday afternoon, more than two-dozen of the best big-wave surfers from around the world, along with family members, friends, and members of the media gathered on the beach at Pillar Point to celebrate the opening of the new 2009/2010 Contest season.

The only big-wave paddle-in contest on the mainland, the waiting period for this year’s Mavericks Surf Contest® will last from November 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.

During this window, the 24 invitees will wait for Mother Nature to conjure up the “perfect storm” that will produce waves that are 30-40 feet in height. Once such a swell is on the horizon, the 24 contestants themselves will vote on whether to call the Contest.

As the invitees and alternates lined the beach for this year’s photo shoot, they were greeted by a surprise guest. Surfing pioneer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz gave a heartfelt speech in which he spoke of how proud he was of each of these men for the contributions that they have made to the sport of big-wave surfing.

“As long as you surf, surfing will keep you,” said the 90 year-old Paskowitz, whose son Abraham and grandson Levi were also on hand. These men were also addressed by long-time Mavericks surfer Peter Mel, as well as by former contest champions Greg Long, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, and Anthony Tashnick.

Each man described what surfing Mavericks means to them, and all spoke of how proud they were to be part of the brotherhood of Mavericks chargers.

Everyone then paddled out towards Mavericks to continue the tradition of joining in a circle to honor the new big-wave season at Mavericks.

Mavericks competitor Tim West, Jr. summed up the emotions that were present in the circle, saying, “The paddle out was rad and was definitely the most spiritual one I have ever experienced.”

The festivities as well as the perfect weather lasted well into the evening as the surfers, their families, and friends gathered on the lawn outside of the Oceano Hotel and Spa for eating, drinking, and dancing, as well as for this year’s heat drawings.

Guests enjoyed surf-inspired cocktails from Jim Beam, along with Sierra Nevada on tap, while speaking with excitement about what this season’s El Niño weather pattern might bring.

All agreed that Mavericks Matriarch Katherine Kelly Clark had outdone herself once again in organizing this memorable event.

Contest invitee Kenny “Skindog” Collins added, “This was the best opening ceremony celebration ever! Everyone’s looking good and healthy, and it was great to get together.” Each competitor also received a gift package that included newly launched Mavericks sunglasses, belts, and 100% recycled hoodies, a Sony Ericsson W518A phone, and a limited edition Mavericks/Jim Beam bottle and blanket.

The Field is Set. Unlike other big-wave contests, Mavericks invitees draw numbered golf balls to determine whom they will compete against in the six-man, first round heats.

The invitees themselves have chosen this method of seeding because they believe it mirrors the unpredictability of Mavericks itself in that “you never know what you’re going to get.”

Below are the official random heat draws presented in the order they were chosen by the surfers themselves for the 2009 Contest:

Heat One: Evan Slater, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Ion Banner, Dave Wassell, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Tyler Smith

Heat Two: Peter Mel, Shane Desmond, Zach Wormhoudt, Nathan Fletcher, Matt Ambrose, Anthony Tashnick

Heat Three: Brock Little, Tim West Jr., Kenny “Skindog” Collins, Josh Loya, Greg Long, Carlos Burle

Heat Four: Chris Bertish, Grant Washburn, Ryan Seelbach, Ben Andrews, Shawn Rhodes, Jamie Sterling

Record Prize Purse and Jim Beam Jersey at stake. This year, the invitees will compete for a record-breaking $150,000 prize purse, including $50,000 to the Champion.

The purse is personally funded by Mavericks benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, and Barracuda Networks. Mavericks will also introduce the “Jim Beam Jersey” to this year’s lineup—a distinctive jersey to be worn by the 2008 Mavericks Champion as he battles to defend his hard-earned title.

Jim Beam will also offer fans a limited edition Contest label along with a $5,000 donation to benefit Save the Waves—an environmental coalition dedicated to preserving the world's surf spots and their surrounding environments. In addition, a $5,000 "Gnarliest Drop" award will be offered to the surfer who exhibits the most impressive drop-in of the day.