The surfing world turns its eyes to Santa Cruz on Thursday for the opening day of the O'Neill Coldwater Classic.
For the first time since the early 1990s, the classic is a top-tier competition rather than a qualifying event. For fans, that means a chance to watch 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and 35 more of the world's best surfers compete at Steamer Lane.
Slater, 40, is second behind Joel Parkinson with two Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour events remaining in 2012.
"It's a pretty cool place to surf," said John John Florence, ranked No. 4 in the world. "It's a hard wave to surf, and every day's been a learning curve."
Nat Young of Santa Cruz won the trials Wednesday. He'll join wild-card Jason Collins of Santa Cruz in the field Thursday.
Organizers expect to start heats Thursday, but a call will be made about 7:15 a.m. on when they will start. The contest likely will take four days to complete in a 10-day waiting for the best surf.
Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova and Santa Clara's Marc Trasolini are among the 30 men's basketball candidates up for the Senior CLASS Award. Cal's Layshia Clarendon is one of 30 candidates for the women's basketball award. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition. The winners will be announced in April.
Wire services contributed to this report.