Lennox Head surfer Stuart Kennedy won the biggest event of his emerging career in Tasmania today, taking out the prestigious Association of Surfing Professionals 6-Star Rated O’Neill Cold Water Classic.
Twenty-year-old Kennedy is on his first serious year as an ASP World Qualifying Series competitor and the former Australasian Pro Junior Champion of 2008 could not have dreamed of such a win so early in his season.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win an event like this in waves that have been so good – it won’t sink in for some time but I feel amazing right now,” said Kennedy.
“The waves really suited me and every heat I’d simply say to myself to forget about competing and just go out and surf these great waves which is what I did.
“When I scored that 9.5 ride early in the final I became really nervous knowing I was in such a winning situation and then I just opened up and surfed that next wave and I felt on top of the world when I heard the 8.5 score.”
Kennedy’s two-wave final total of 18 out of a possible 20 was the highest of the event and he won the final emphatically, with Brazilian Wigolly Dantas a distant second on 12.57.
Kennedy now goes to Bells Beach having been allocated a sponsor wild card for the ASP World Tour event which begins on Tuesday and runs right through Easter.
“I’ll go to Bells full of confidence and it’s a chance of a life-time to take on the very best surfers in the world,” he said.
Wigolly Dantas had been in superb form all week but in the final today simply couldn’t find the right waves to match with the in-form and confident Kennedy.
“It’s been a fantastic week here in Tasmania and I’m very pleased with the result today – Stuart surfed a great final today and he deserved to win for sure,” said Dantas.
Equal third placed surfers today were Chris Davidson (Sydney ) who went down to Wigolly Dantas in his semi-final and Marco Giorgi (Uraguay) who was eliminated by Kennedy.
Kennedy received $US20 000 for his win today along with valuable rating points on the ASP World Qualifying Series and he now leads the ratings in the chase for the $50,000 prize pool allocated to the Cold Water Classic Series for the season.
The O’Neill Cold Water Classic Series of events is a series of five events each year running as part of the ASP World Qualifying Series beginning here in Tasmania and followed by events in Scotland, South Africa, Canada and USA.
PICTURE: Stuart Kennedy raises the trophy after winning the O’Neill Cold Water Classic in Tasmania (Photo: ASP/Robertson)