The surf kicked up a notch and the top-seeded competitors raised the level of competition yesterday at day three of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic presented by Jeep. The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) four-star event opened up in clean 3-4 foot waves yesterday morning at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, California.

Dane Reynolds (Ventura, Calif.) showed the hundreds in attendance why he one of the most dangerous surfers in the world by decimating his opponents in his round four heat. The 21 year-old wunderkind secured the event high single-wave score of a 9.93 out of a possible 10 for a combination of sizzling cutbacks punctuated by a phenomenal 360-degree sliding reverse on the end section.

“I was sitting super wide and everyone was a bit too deep," Reynolds said. “I got caught in the kelp and barely made the drop. When I stood up, it was just this perfect wall. It was the best wave I’ve ever got at the Lane. There was a really good bowl to it and that must have something to do with that little south that’s coming through."

Reynolds, who has recently returned to WQS competition after a brief sabbatical, is looking for a big result at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic presented by Jeep to boost his ratings for a full assault in 2007.

“If I got a result here, it would help me a lot," Reynolds said. “As of now, I’m really really low on the ratings and I need to be in the top 200 to get into all the events next year. I need to do really well in a couple of four stars because that’s all I can do right now. It’d be really good for my next year’s WQS tour if I got a good result here and at Sunset."

Tim Reyes (Huntington Beach, Calif.), current No. 11 on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour, has been in searing form all season overpowering competitors at both elite tour events and on the WQS. “It’s definitely just coming together a lot more for me this season," Reyes said. “I think that I’m surfing the same but things are just happening for me. I don’t know what it is really. I’m getting the right waves and I’m feeling good."

Reyes, who recently returned from elite tour competition in Europe, opted to surf the Cold Water Classic before heading down to Brazil for the next World Tour event.

“It’s the O’Neill Cold Water Classic – it’s one of the biggest events in America," Reyes said of his decision to compete in the WQS event. “I’ve been coming up here a lot – practically living up here because my girlfriend lives up here with her family. I just stay up here during all the breaks I have from the ASP World Tour. It’d be cool to do well in the contest up here. Last year I got fourth and I feel like I can win this event – I just need some good waves and I think I’ll do well."

Reyes caused a huge upset in the Macy’s California Trifecta Surf Series presented by Jeep (an ASP specialty series) by eliminating current ratings-leader Dustin Cuizon (Ewa Beach, Haw.) in his Round of 64 heat. Cuizon now has to look on while challengers Nate Yeomans (San Clemente, Calif.), Nathaniel Curran (Ventura, Calif.) and Alex Gray (Palos Verdes, Calif.) aim to dethrone the young Hawaiian from the top of the ratings.

As the final event in the Macy’s California Trifecta Surf Series presented by Jeep, the O’Neill Cold Water Classic will crown the 2006 champion and award the $10,000 bonus prize. The ratings race may be decided as early as today depending on how things pan out.

The Oakley Pro Junior (an ASP grade-two event), running in conjunction with the O’Neill Cold Water Classic presented by Jeep, will kick off this afternoon, conditions permitting. The event will serve as the ASP North America national championships as it will be the final event of the 2006 season.

The Oakley Pro Junior will feature some of the best junior competitors (aged 20 and under) in world vying for their last opportunity at qualifying for the prestigious ASP World Junior Championships.

The top-four finishers on the ASP North America Pro Junior series, along with Alex Gray (Palos Verdes, Calif.) will be sent to the ASP World Junior Championships held in Narrabeen, New South Wales, Australia. Gray has already secured his entry by being the highest-ranked North America surfer of the WQS who is of junior age – Gray is currently ranked 43rd.