Torrey Meister claimed the 2013 O'Neill Coldwater Classic Invitational title today earning the enviable winner-take-all yearlong O'Neill sponsorship worth $50,000. With an unconventional new format pitting 16 mostly unsponsored surfers against each other for one grand prize, the ASP Specialty Event ran today in pumping conditions at Steamer Lane.
Round One's draw set the event up for local triumphs, upsets, and legitimate opportunities for each competitor to prove they could compete on the elite level. The biggest upset came at the hands of Huntington Beach's Billy Hopkins when he eliminated Granger Larson, who is currently one position away from qualifying for the 2014 World Tour. Santa Cruz's Shaun Burns and Noi Kaulukukui used their local wave knowledge to defeat Cory Arrambide, a successful amateur competitor from California, and Dion Atkinson, No. 35 on the One World Rankings, respectively.
The Quarters kicked off with a Hawaiian heat between Hank Gaskell and Torrey Meister. Meister started off quick with a nine-point wave (the highest of the event up to that point) for a massive air punt on the inside section. Gaskell was unable to come back, ultimately earning Meister a Finals berth after defeating Ricardo Christie in the Semis. Local favorite Noi Kaulukukui upset Chris Waring, a runner-up in the 2008 O'Neill Coldwater Classic, in a tight heat, but lost to Australian Wade Carmichael in the Semis.
The Final was characterized by multiple lead changes, as Meister and Carmichael went wave for wave in a seesaw battle. Late in the heat, Meister led with twin 6.67s, leaving Carmichael searching for a 6.54. However, the ocean did not cooperate, and Meister took the win. Along with the trophy, Meister earned a yearlong sponsorship from O'Neill worth $50,000 to pursue his elite pro surfing aspirations.
When asked about the win, Meister responded: "I'm excited about riding for O'Neill. 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. They seem like cool people and I'm excited to ride for them."