Nov 13, 2012

Steamer Lane's status as world-class surf break questionable

Steamer Lane's status as world-class surf break questionable
Gabriel Medina catches air during a free ride before the finals of the 2012 O'Neill Coldwater Classic
As suntans fade for the throngs of surf aficionados, organizers and spectators who attended the Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane over the last week, the question lingers: Was our wave worthy of a World Tour?

Steamer Lane -- the break where Jack O'Neill lost his eye developing the now ubiquitous wetsuit and surf leash -- was chosen by the Association of Surfing Professionals to host the top 34 surfers in the world as the 10th of 11 venues on its World Tour. The break earned the honor both on the merits of O'Neill Wetsuits celebrating its 60th anniversary and the spectacular Santa Cruz scenery.

But as far as being a break worthy of the world's best, there's still some debate as to whether Steamer Lane fit the bill. Between sloped wave faces and a fickle temperament for swell and tide conditions, the Lane is unlike most of the other World Tour stops.

"I don't regard the Lane as a world-class wave, I think even the locals would tell you that. It's a world-class amphitheater and this just happens to be a beautiful place," 11-time world champion Kelly Slater said shortly after losing his Round 1 heat to local prodigy Nat Young.

Even though the Lane was on its best behavior during the contest, Slater didn't change his opinion before getting eliminated in Round 5.

"I just can't seem to figure this wave out," Slater said later in the contest. "I'm as frustrated as can be."

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