It's a new decade. The ASP has a new ranking system and there's a new judging criteria in place. It only makes sense that a new crop of kids should come up in 2010 and make their names known.
With the ASP in the midst of a "transition year," the early season 6-star WQS events hold more importance than ever. Those who do well might just be cracking into the WCT events by the second half of the year. And that means the names hovering just inside and just outside the bubble may be ones we're not so familiar with. But make no mistake, this is a dangerous generation.
20-year-old Stuart Kennedy of Lennox Head, AUS, just grabbed himself a win at the O'Neill Coldwater Classic Tasmania, pocketing $20,000. But more importantly, he just stashed 3,000 points in his ASP account, making him the #28 ranked surfer in the world right now, a few slots above Kelly Slater.
Kennedy saved his best for the final, which happened to coincide with reeling rights, eight-foot on the face, for an 18-point final (helped by blistering 9.5) to edge out Brazil's Wigolly Dantas, not an unknown shredder, but hardly a marquis name. They excelled over names like Jordy Smith, Bobby Martinez, and Cory Lopez, none of whom made the quarterfinals.
"The waves really suited me and every heat I'd simply say to myself to forget about competing and just go out and surf these great waves which is what I did," said Kennedy according to the press release, "When I scored that 9.5 ride early in the final I became really nervous knowing I was in such a winning situation and then I just opened up and surfed that next wave and I felt on top of the world when I heard the 8.5 score."
Credit should be given for the second year in a row to O'Neill. By gambling on new venues, they have not only bought back the spirit of exploration so vital to the surfing experience, but some exceptional waves on the historically weak WQS circuit.
The win puts Kennedy in first place for O'Neill's overall Coldwater Classic Series, which is comprised of this event as well as CWC Scotland, CWC South Africa, CWC Canada, and the main CWC event in Santa Cruz, CA an offers an additional $50,000 at the end of the season. He will also get a sponsor wildcard into the WCT Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, which starts March 30th.
Here's some video from the early rounds: