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Dude, Santa Cruz’s Nat Young beats world champ Kelly Slater in O’Neill Coldwater Classic early heat

Yesterday, in Day 1 of the O’Neill Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California, Nat Young, 21, from Santa Cruz defeated 11-time surfing world champion, Kelly Slater, 40 in an early heat!

“To be able to surf that heat against pretty much my idol was amazing,” Young said after the heat, which also included San Clemente‘s Kolohe Andino. “And it was amazing to win it. It’s just awesome when I hear everyone cheer for me.”

The crowd was four and five spectators deep on the railing of West Cliff Drive!

Slater, the 40-year-old No. 2 in the world, is locked in a world title race with Australian Joel Parkinson. He was not eliminated, and will appear in Round 2 against another Santa Cruz local, Jason “Ratboy” Collins.

Part of the draw for spectators at this year’s Coldwater is its upgrade from a qualifying event to an Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour event. For the first time since the early 1990s, the field includes Slater and the top surfers in the world.

For recreational surfers in Surf City, it was one of the best displays of high-performance surfing in years.

-Bill at

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