GISBORNE, New Zealand, March 27, 2011 – Day five of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic played host to the most innovative surfing witnessed in New Zealand as the world’s elite surfers attacked the Gisborne waves today.
A delayed start was forced on the competitors due to small conditions. A small 0.5m – 1.0m swell built throughout the morning allowing the surfing to kick into action by 11:00am at The Pines on Wainui Beach.
Honors were split between Australia and Brazil who each had three surfers progress through to the quarterfinals along with a surfer each from Spain and France.
The Australian’s applied the pressure early with calculated approaches, both Tom Whitaker and Adam Melling controlling their heats from the outset.
Whitaker, who fell outside of the top 32 surfers half way through 2010, has found himself back contesting the Association of Surfing Professional (ASP) Prime and Star Series events early in 2011. Despite hating the hassling that is associated with four man heats he has been enjoying his time in New Zealand at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic.
“Yeah you know conditions aren’t totally favorable today – but one minute prior to a restart in our heat that absolute bomb came in and I had the position on it and got an 8.0 point ride.”
“I hate hassling in the four man heats so I was lucky at the start of the event when it was big, I could go and surf by myself and now it is small it is man on man and you just have to sit and wait for the good ones, so far so good.”
Whitaker defeated Marc Lacomare (FRA) who came back half way through the heat with a 6.5 point ride putting a bit of pressure on Whitaker.
“Marc is always going to do that in these little waves, he has the cool aerial maneuvers and he got a couple of inside waves. I wobbled o n my second wave and if I had have finished the wave it would have been an easier win” said Whitaker.
Like most surfers left in the event Whitaker was happy to see the days competition finish after the Round of 16 surfers had been completed.
“Yeah I think they are saying a bit more swell tomorrow” said Whitaker adding “This comp has been a total WQS comp – every condition from 6-8ft wild stuff down to little grovelly stuff you seem to see on WQS. It is good. I am getting practice in every condition, four man heats, the lot… I feel like a grommet again.”
Adam Melling posted a 14.00 point heat total to defeat fellow Australian Nic Muscroft (10.90) in the first heat of the round which he was happy to see the back of.
“It is good to be down this end of the event, good points and cash up for grabs so I am stoked to make it through the last heat.”
“It is small but I am happy though, it is rippable out there today, it gets like this at my home break, it is still pretty fun out there.”
Above: Lay day fun in Gisborne.
The Brazilian surfers exploded in the small beach break conditions using their natural flare, Thiago Camarao posting the highest heat score of the day – a near perfect 17.17 out of a possible 20 points to progress along with fellow countrymen Willian Cardoso and Miguel Pupo.
Camarao was the star of the day busting several huge airs in a ‘highlights reel’ 30 minute heat as he went toe to toe with fellow Brazilian surfer Thomas Hermes who also surfed brilliantly scoring 14.20.
Spanish surfer Gony Zubizarreta found himself on the lucky side of the conditions finding a bomb at the start of the heat and surfing to an 8.0 point ride in his heat.
“I was just in the right spot and got a really long wave, an 8.0 I think, then I just had to focus on a bac k up and I had priority and got a 7.0, it is small but fun.”
“I changed my board to a 5’11 that is shaped for little waves and it worked perfectly out there.”
Zubizarreta chimed in with Whitaker on holding off on the quarterfinals after what he described as a draining performance the day prior.
Late in the day Stuart Kennedy (AUS) defeated Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 15.66 to 12.84 to complete the Round of 16 surfers.
With only seven heats remaining and the luxury of two days to complete the Gisborne O’Neill Cold Water Classic, the best possible conditions will be found to find an event champion.
Only eight surfers remain in the event and when the quarterfinals hit the water, the first heat will see a head-to-head match up with Adam Melling (AUS) vs Gony Zubizarreta (SPN).
Heat 1 - Adam Melling, AUS vs Gony Zubizarreta, ESP
Heat 2 - Joan Duru, FRA vs Tom Whitaker, AUS
Heat 3 – Willian Cardoso, BRA vs Thiago Camarao, BRA
Heat 4 - Miguel Pupo, BRA vs Stu Kennedy, AUS
Following the launch in New Zealand, the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series will travel to its northernmost destination – Thurso, Scotland, for the 6 Star ASP World Tour event from April 13 until April 19, before culminating once again at the 6 Star Prime ASP World Tour event, the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series, California, in Santa Cruz, October 24-30, 2011.