As the longest running surf contest in North America, Santa Cruz’s Coldwater Classic has been drawing some of the biggest names in the sport for decades. While the contest has been a 6-star ’QS and World Tour event in the past, this year we’ll see an entirely different format. In an attempt to shine light on today’s blue-collar competitors—while simultaneously sprinkling in a dash of democracy to the event—the contest has barred sponsored surfers from the competition.
The new format welcomes 16 competitors: 10 unsponsored surfers will be invited and eight unsponsored competitors will be trimmed down to four via an online vote. Two wildcard surfers will be awarded slots as well. The event winner receives a sponsorship from O’Neill and $50,000 to chase the ‘QS.