SANTA CRUZ, California/USA (Sunday, October 30, 2011) – Miguel Pupo (BRA), 19, has defeated Tiago Pires (BRA), 31, to win the ASP PRIME O’Neill Cold Water Classic California in peaky one-to-three foot (.5 metre) waves at the backup location of Waddell Creek and also clinched the additional US$50,000 prize purse as the top finisher on the O’Neill CWC Series.
With limited swell and unfavorable tides on several days of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic California waiting period, surfers at this year’s event had to perform at both the iconic pointbreak of Steamer Lane as well as the beachbreak of Waddell Creek in order to earn a top result.
Pupo dominated the final against the Portuguese veteran and relied on his patented aerial game on the lefthand ramps of Waddell Creek to solidify his victory with two near-perfect scores of 9.33 and 9.60, the highest single-wave score of the event, after an amazing showing throughout the contest’s entirety.
“I feel unbelievable right now,” Pupo said. “I was feeling comfortable out there and I was just trying to surf my best and I won. I’ve been surfing a beachbreak my whole life and I’m used to these waves. I was really lucky that we moved to here (Waddell Creek). It could have been a different story if we ran at The Lane.”
In addition to Pupo’s dominant effort in the Final, the high-flying Brazilian rampaged to a near-perfect heat of 19.14 (out of 20), the event’s highest, to kick off his run on the final day. Pupo topped local favorite Nat Young (Santa Cruz, CA), 20, and fellow countrymen Willian Cardoso (BRA), 25, before defeating fellow ASP World Tour campaigner Pires in the Final.
“I was really nervous to surf against Nat (Young) and I knew it was going to be a hard heat,” Pupo said. “He’s one of the best juniors in the world and a local out here. Luckily I caught a couple of waves and eventually got those two 9’s.”
Pupo, who joined the elite ASP Top 34 after the midyear rotation, climbs the standings compliments of the ASP PRIME victory, substantially increasing his chances of requalification for the start of the 2012 season.
“Those points are going to help me a lot and this is a really important result for me going in to the rest of the year,” Pupo said. “To get the points and win $90,000 today, I’m so happy”
Pires relied on impeccable wave selection as well as classic rail-to-rail power-surfing en route to his equal 3rd place finish, topping ASP World No. 6 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 22, in his Semifinals bout, but was unable to surpass Pupo for the win.
“I’m stoked, with these kinds of conditions I didn’t see myself in the final today and I was just really happy to be out there,” Pires said. “Miguel (Pupo) put on a show and I have to take my hat off to him. He’s one of the best surfers in the world in these conditions and he deserves it. I’m stoked I got second and this result is going to help my result on the World Rankings so I’m really happy.”
Jordy Smith also displayed his impressive aerial game on the final day of O’Neill Cold Water Classic competition at the backup venue of Waddell Creek, overtaking fellow aerial mastermind Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, in the Quarterfinals, but was unable to find a rhythm against Pires in their Semifinals match-up, finishing equal 3rd overall.
“It’s tough to lose when you’re right there, especially since it’s my sponsor’s event and I wanted to do well for them,” Smith said. “It was really hard out there with the waves only being half-a-foot, but what are you going to do.”
Smith, who suffered a rib Injury at the elite ASP World Title event at Teahupoo, is on his way to a full recovery and the O’Neill Cold Water Classic California was a perfect momentum builder for the upcoming ASP World Title event in San Francisco.
“My injury has been taking its time,” Smith said. “One week I feel good and the next I feel bad, so I’ve had my ups and downs. I went to go see the doctor and he said it’s not too bad. Every time I surfed on it, any more than one or two heats it’d hurt really bad, it’s not hurting at all so it’s good.”
Willian Cardoso (BRA) who was ranked No. 43 on the men’s ASP World Ranking entering the event, relied on a similar strategy as Pires on the final day competition and displayed seamless power-surfing on his backhand en route to an equal 3rd place result.
“It’s big points for me, it would have been nice to make one more heat, but it’s small conditions and I feel like I surfed well,” Cardoso said. “I’m happy because I wanted to make a result before I went to Hawaii. Now I have a chance to qualify at the end of the year.”
For O’Neill Cold Water Classic highlights log on to www.oneill.com/cwc
O’NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC FINAL RESULT
1 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 18.93
2 – Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.20
O’NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.33 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 8.80
SF 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.43
O’NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.00 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 11.00
QF 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 19.14 def. Nat Young (USA) 13.16
QF 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.56 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 7.93
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.33
O’NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC ROUND OF 12 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.43 def. Nathan Yeomans (USA) 10.00
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 15.00 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 6.17
Heat 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.50 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 6.24
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 5.90