O'Neill Cold Water Classic
O'Neill's Cold Water Classic was a world tour stop last year, this week it played host to 16 invited surfers who have limited or no sponsorship. Maui's Torrey Meister won it, earning a spot on O'Neill's team and a $50,000 travel budget.
This event may have made Torrey Meister's career. Currently at the No. 104 slot on the ASP World Rankings, a win on the WQS (World Qualifying Series) might secure a few bucks and some points, but a year on the O'Neill team and travel budget means 12 months of competing around the world and solid exposure, without sweating his budget.
Aussie Wade Carmichael beat local boy and favorite Noi Kaulukukui to earn a trip to the finals.
"Hana" Hank Gaskell isn't afraid to work, but he'd rather toss big spray full time than the construction work he does back in Hawaii.
Santa Cruz is up-and-coming again in the surf world, especially since local Nat Young just collected ASP Rookie of the Year honors. Young came out to mix it up in the Expression Session.
Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz
No matter who's surfing it, Steamer Lane is one of the most picturesque spots in the country.
What blows you away more, how picture perfect Santa Cruz is with the sailboats and offshore winds, or the fact that former Cold Water Classic runner-up Chris Waring isn't sponsored?
Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz
Everyone knows that following the WQS tour can be a little draining. And you rarely get places like Steamer Lane pumping at three to five-foot with one other surfer out. Thanks O'Neill.
Nat Young and Daryl "Flea" Virostko
So, who can you expect to see at an event with a bunch of unsponsored surfers competing? Just a couple of West Siders like Nat Young and Daryl "Flea" Virostko taking it all in.
Noi Kaulukukui of Santa Cruz was an obvious favorite. He knows this wave -- so well, in fact, that he axed Dion Atkinson, who is currently at No. 35 on the ASP World Rankings, in Rd 1.
Fellow local boy Shaun Burns iced Cory Arrambide in the first round with big hacks like this on the open face.
"It's been a long time since I've had a sticker on the nose of my board. It's been great that O'Neill put this event on for us," said Meister. "They seem like cool people and I'm excited to ride for them."
The waiting period for the Maverick's Invitational is officially underway. Up the road from Santa Cruz the 2013/14 invitees take a moment to remember those that have fallen in action, including Jay Moriarity, Mark Foo and Sion Milosky.
Just when you think you've got the best tail blow in the business ...
A Whale Tale
... some bigger marine mammal shows up and blows you out of the water. Local Humpback putting his stills and flippers on display.
Keeping it lose and local, Willie Engleton proves that the talent pool in Santa Cruz runs deep.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill
After an America's Cup win on the nearby San Francisco Bay, Team Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill address some of the gnarliest big-wave surfers in the business at the Maverick's Invitational opening ceremony.
Unable to surf in the unconventional Cold Water Classic, an event he's won, because he has a solid sponsor, Young was fine with being left to entertain himself.
A prisoner of his own fame. Nat Young is far and away the most recognizable surfer in Santa Cruz these days.
Local boy Kory Kvenlid on point at the Lane before the Cold Water Classic.
Jeff Clark & Team Oracle
Maverick's pioneer Jeff Clark shares some aloha with Team Oracle on the beach in Half Moon Bay during the opening ceremony for the Maverick's Invitational.
Just on the other side of the point at Steamer Lane is Its Beach. A frightening beachbreak, it's not short on power.