This one’s for anyone into extreme surfing – the O’Neill Cold Water Classic

Have you heard about the O’Neill Cold Water Classic?

Known as the coldest surf contest on tour and attended by the world’s best searching for extreme conditions and world class waves, O’Neill have come up with a remarkable competition. It’s the most northern, the most southern, the wildest, the coldest & the most classic surf contest on the planet. Their aim is to find some of the best waves in the world in wild remote locations in which to stage a world-class competition. And they have chosen 5 venues: Tasmania, Thurso Scotland, Cape Town, Tofino Canada and Santa Cruz California.

The series had an epic start in March in the wilds of Tasmania, Australia in a place called Marrawah. The surfers were greeted with rain, freezing on-shore winds and wild wind-swept seas, but, undeterred, 20-year-old Australian  Stuart Kennedy  took victory in perfect 2-meter conditions. ASPWorldTour

The 6-Star ASP event then moved on to the other side of the world for the northernmost event in professional surfing – Thurso, Scotland. Thurso can provide powerful world-class waves to rival Hawaii’s North Shore. Following one of the coldest European winters on record, and with recent blizzards and snowfall up in the northeast of Scotland, the event promised to be a grueling challenge.  With both the air and water temperatures hovering uncomfortably low, coupled with the persistent rain and hail—this was the ultimate Cold Water Classic experience.

And yet surfers flood back year after year to brave the conditions! freesporttv

Stuart Kennedy won in Tasmania, Royden Bryson from South Africa won the Scottish event – who’s next?

Following Scotland the Cold Water Classic Series moved on to the wildest event in professional surfing – Cape Town, South Africa:

Cape Town is a difficult place to have a surf contest, but Cape Town’s advantage is that the event can be held on both sides of the peninsula from the wild and exposed beaches on the west to the perfect reef breaks on the east. This region isn’t known as the Cape of Storms  for nothing and  the first day of the event was held at Noordhoek. The competition then packed up and moved to the Outer Kom for the second round. Outer Kom was once considered a world class break and might be remembered by some for the Spur Surfabout which was the best contest outside of Hawaii in 1985. It is now popular with aspiring big wave surfers.

But the competition moved on to the normally relatively unexciting Long Beach. It had the best waves for the day. Although the competition moved around there were enough massive swells and wild storms to keep even the most difficult-to-please surfer challenged.The competition ended with a perfect barreling left for the finals.

South Africa has more than its fair share of surfing talent and it’s always a possibility that a local will conquer. It happened again this time. Greg Emslie, a retired family man, took first place with Australian Dion Atkinson coming second.

That was in July.

Next up is Canada – professional surfing’s coldest event. It takes place between 9th – 15th October. Tofino is rated 6 in surfing terminology. All the other venues are a 6 too apart from Cape Town which is a 4.

Brrrrrrr… this place looks cold!

ONeill Cold Water Classic at Tofino, Canada

O'Neill CWC, Tofino, Canada

O’Neill’s Cold Water Classic was the first professional surf event to be held on Canadian shores and Tofino, a small fishing village of 1,900 people, was the perfect site. “The Cold Water Classic event in Tofino is the one we know all the surfers on the tour have been talking about,” said O’Neill Global Event Manager, Ritzer. “It represents all that we have set out to achieve with the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series. It is about providing a unique and challenging experience for the world’s best surfers by pushing the boundaries and exploring new remote and spectacular locations.”

Last year’s victor was local boy Pete Devries – an exhilarating moment for every surfer in Canada as it was not only the first professional event to be held in Canada but also the first time a Canadian had won a professional surf competition. Truly a moment to savour.

Tofino, on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, is also a place for the perfect extreme vacation. Bounded by the open Pacific Ocean, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tofino is known for its miles of pristine beaches and unparalleled adventures. With bears on land, whales in the sea and a spectacular old-growth pine forest backdrop, there is also saltwater and freshwater fishing, surfing, kayaking, boating, hiking, and winter storm watching. It’s quite a place.

140 surfers will make the trek through the wilderness of western Canada to one of the most stunning – and of course freezing cold – events in professional surfing including Pete Devries who is looking forward to enjoying the event. “I’ve already won the event so I don’t have anything to prove so there’s no pressure. I want to go into it with the same mentality as last year and just have fun.”

The O’Neill Cold Water Rankings, after 3 events, stand like this:

1. Royden Bryson (ZAF) 4844
2. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 4800
3. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 3903
4. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 3406
5. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 3000

It’s by no means sure who is going to win it yet. Last year the Cold Water Classic Series Winner was Blake Thornton.

The final venue for this extreme competition will be Santa Cruz, California, the birthplace of O’Neill. The dates are 19th – 24th October.


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