For the first time since 2015, the World Surf League will return to Santa Cruz California, when the Oneill Cold Water Classic returns to historic Steamers Lane this week.
The Qualifying Series event is the beginning steps for surfers that hope to make the Championship tour in the future.
The last time the Cold Water Classic was held in Santa Cruz, the winner was unheralded Brazilian surfer Rafael Texeira. The unsponsored goofy footer put up a 9.00 wave in the final en route to 16.10 finals winning heat.
Will the 2022 version produce a surprise winner or will one of your veterans take the glory?
A scheduled 96 men and 40 ladies will take to the water starting Tuesday in hopes of being crowned the winner of the comeback event.
If it is a top surfer, the favorites include San Clemente pro Griffin Colapinto (ranked 7th on the Championship Tour in 2022) or local stars Nat Young (ranked 17th) or Kolohe Andino (ranked 20th).
All three of them competed for team USA at the recent ISA World Games and helped the men's team to a second-place finish.
Young is no stranger to the event as he won it back in 2008 when he was just 17 years old.
Local standouts John Mel and Sam Coffey are also among those that stand a strong chance to be in the final at the end of the week.
One of the hottest on the QS tour is San Clemente's Jett Schilling. The 19-year-old member of the Vans Surf Team won the Vans Pro at Virginia Beach in August.
He also has a 2nd and 5th place QS finish this year and the 3rd place finish in the CS event in Syndey, Australia. He is currently ranked number 1 on the points list.
Or could there be a surprise among the many young and up and coming hopefuls that will make a statement in the event?
With many southern California rippers heading up north, you never know who the next surprise winner could be.
Here are what a few local hopefuls had to say about their chances.
Pro Surfer since 2017
5th in QS Ron Jon Quis Pro, Jacks Pro
9th in CS EDP Vissla Pro Ericeira
17th Championship Tour RC Newcastle Cup 2021
"I'm coming in hot and I'm excited to surf some heats out at the Lane. I'm looking forward to surfing some heats with some of the CT surfers."
Guam native currently living in Huntington Beach
33rd in the WRV Outer Banks Pro
"I'm feeling good coming into the event because the forecast looks amazing. We're going to have good sized waves and I'm stoked because the past three events the waves were pretty small. I'm looking forward to surfing against some of the bigger names like Kolohe, Griffin and Ian Crane."
Huntington Beach HS champion
33rd in the Essential Costa Rica Pro in 2018
"I haven't surfed many comps the past couple of years, but I feel a good result coming soon. I've been training and focusing hard this year so I'm coming into the event ready to go big every heat and surf against the best surfers on the tour. I'm looking to improve on being more patient and getting the high-quality waves. Every time I get back in a jersey, I know it's just a matter of time till I get the result I'm looking for. I'm going to do my best to make it happen this event.
16-year-old from San Clemente
25th in the SLO Open at Morro Bay in 2020
"I love competing at the Lane so I'm super excited. I feel confident so I just want to focus on myself and make some heats."
Currently ranked #1 NSSA
33rd in the Vans Pro 2022
"For me, doing these QS events are just for fun and to get used to the QS setting. I don't really have any expectations in these contests and just want to see how well I can do."
National Champion and Senior at Newport Harbor High School.
25th in the Jacks Surfboard Pro 2022
"I'm coming into the event excited knowing there is going to be surf. I'm looking forward to making a couple of heats and scoring some fun waves with 3 other guys at the Lane"
16-year-old, Huntington Beach
65th in the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro
"I'm looking forward to surfing great waves with only three girls in the lineup. My goal is to make a few heats and just overall surf my best."
On the ladies' side, the draw is led by Caitlin Simmers and Kirra Pinkerton, ranked 2nd and 16th on the Challengers Tour. Other notables are Bella Kenworthy (2nd on qs rankings), Zoe Benedetto (4th qs) and Ella McCaffrey (8th qs).
You can see the Men's draw here heat-draw-pdf (worldsurfleague.com)
The event kicks off Tuesday morning at 7:30 pst with the men's round of 96. Check back here daily for results of the local surfers.