Mavericks Surf Contest is a Go This Saturday, February 13th, 2010

It’s on! The world famous Mavericks Surf Contest is on.

After two long years of lulls, get ready for some lulz and excitement. The long wait, she is over:

From January 12, 2008: Darryl “Flea” Virostko was a tad aggressive in the first round. Not too long ago he went though rehab (“FleaHab” they calling the program) - look for him to do well. Click to expand:

Canon 1D Mark II, Canon EF 300mm 2.8 IS plus Canon 2x II extender at f8.0

*Assuming you have a reason to go. Assuming you are really, really up for it. Otherwise:

“NOTE: IN AN EFFORT TO LIMIT CROWD IMPACT ON THE HALF MOON BAY AREA AND COASTAL ECO-SYSTEMS, WE ARE ENCOURAGING ALL MAVERICKS FANS TO WATCH THE CONTEST VIA FREE LIVE WEBCAST OR BY ATTENDING OUR LIVE VIEWING PARTY AT AT&T PARK IN SAN FRANCISCO. BOTH OPTIONS PROVIDE A MUCH BETTER VIEWING EXPERIENCE THAN THE VIEW FROM THE BEACH.  IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING MAVERICKS IN-PERSON, PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL AND CAUTIOUS OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, AND LEAVE NO TRACE.  PLEASE PARK IN THE OFFICIAL PARKING LOTS ONLY AND BE RESPECTFUL OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY.”

All the deets, and I mean all the deets, after the jump

GREENLIGHT GIVEN FOR THE 2009/2010 MAVERICKS SURF CONTEST® PRESENTED
BY SONY ERICSSON AND BARRACUDA NETWORKS
Contest is called for February 13, 2010
HALF MOON BAY, Calif., February 11, 2010 – GREENLIGHT ALERT!  The wait
is over, the votes have been counted, and the 24 invitees have chosen
to call The 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest® Presented by Sony
Ericsson and Barracuda Networks for 8 a.m. on Saturday February 13,
2010. Showcasing 24 of the world’s finest big-wave surfers, the
largest prize purse in the history of big-wave surfing at $150,000, a
groundbreaking live webcast program, and four former Contest
Champions, the Mavericks Surf Contest® returns once again to the epic
Half Moon Bay break.
2009/2010 Contest Invitees.  Mavericks is proud to present the
2009/2010 INVITEES (in alphabetical order): Matt Ambrose, Ben Andrews,
Grant Baker, Ion Banner, Chris Bertish, Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins,
Shane Desmond, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little, Greg Long, Josh Loya,
Peter Mel, Shawn Rhodes, Ryan Seelbach, Evan Slater, Tyler Smith,
Jamie Sterling, Anthony Tashnick, Darryl Virostko, Grant Washburn,
Dave Wassell, Tim West, and Zach Wormhoudt. The 15 alternates are (in
order of priority): Alex Martins, Danilo Couto, Mark Healey, Tyler
Fox, Rusty long, Nic Lamb, Jamie Mitchell, Mike Gerhardt, Russell
Smith, Kealii Mamala, Garrett McNamara, Andrew Marr, Lawton Smith,
John Whittle, Colin Dwyer.
2009/2010 Contest Partners.  The 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest®
Presented by Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks has been made
possible due to the generous support of its sponsors and partners:
Sony Ericsson, Barracuda Networks, Jim Beam® Bourbon, Moose Guen and
Jane Sutherland of MVision, Facebook, the Bay Club, The Corporate Law
Group, Gnarly Head Wines, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Airship Ventures,
Vertical Response, Surfer Magazine, Oceano Hotel & Spa, Stormsurf.com,
Rickshaw Bagworks, GoPro, Mission Chiropractic, and Capture
Technologies.
Viewing Options.  As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce foot
traffic at the event and entice fans to experience the Contest
remotely, this season Mavericks has launched its most ambitious
webcast offering to-date.  Millions of fans witnessed the 2008 Contest
via a live webcast.  For the first time ever, this season fans can
catch all the live action at Mavericks’ official website,
www.maverickssurf.com.  Also new this year, Mavericks will bring
viewers around the world an opportunity to experience the thrill of
Mavericks via a live, interactive webcast on Facebook® and Ustream.
The webcasts will be powered by Ustream, the leading live broadcasting
platform on the internet. The experiences, available at
www.facebook.com/mavericks and
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-2009-2010-mavericks-surf-contest-presented-by-sony-ericsson,
will provide fans with an unprecedented level of interactivity while
viewing the contest—sharing their thoughts real-time, through Facebook
Connect, with other Mavericks fans everywhere.   Fans will also have
the option of watching the contest while on the go, thanks to FLO TV,
provider of the award-winning live mobile FLO TV™ service. Through the
partnership with FLO TV, surf fans will be able to watch the
competition on mobile handsets, the FLO TV™ Personal Television and on
in-car entertainment systems launching later this year.  More
information is available at www.flotv.com.
The day’s activities will again be available via a unique live webcast
viewing event at AT&T Park—“baseball’s perfect address” and the home
of the San Francisco Giants.  Ticketed fans can watch the Contest live
and in high definition on the big screen in centerfield or from any of
the big screens throughout the Club level. Tickets for the AT&T Park
viewing event will include in and out privileges and can be purchased
for $20 in advance, or $25 at AT&T Park or online at
www.maverickssurf.com.  Fans who will be in the East Bay can attend a
live viewing event at Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland.  The event is
free to attend, but space is limited, so fans are encouraged to arrive
early.  For more information go to www.misspearlsjamhouse.com.  For
those who want to be even closer to the action, Mavericks offers
officially-sanctioned boat tours.  These boats are piloted by
seasoned, local captains with knowledge of the area around the
Mavericks surf break, and guests on the boats are provided with
complimentary parking, lunches and official Contest apparel.  *Note:
Mavericks strongly discourages anyone from purchasing seats on
non-sanctioned boat tours with which Mavericks has no affiliation due
to safety risks.
As always, surfers and fans alike can track the waves, stay informed
of webcast information, Contest announcements, signup for Mavericks
mail, SMS alerts, purchase official Mavericks™ gear and buy tickets
for the Mavericks Boat Tour and the AT&T Park Viewing Event, at the
official Mavericks website, www.maverickssurf.com.

OVERVIEW 

Every winter season, Mother Nature offers up the ocean’s harshest conditions and the giant, unpredictable waves that characterize Mavericks and the annual Mavericks Surf Contest®.  Frigid waters, dangerous currents, jagged rocks and the ever-present threat of the great white shark. When weather conditions are just right, the 24 chosen surfers will make the official contest call. Once the call is made, they will have only 24 hours to arrive in Half Moon Bay to face the extreme conditions, thunderous waves and each other.  Coined as “the wave beyond,” the Mavericksbrand inspires hardcore athletes to face the unpredictably raw power of Mother Nature, and stirs the souls of those who aspire to challenge their own limits. Mavericks remains true to its core: a cold, mysterious and foreboding place that demands respect from everyone who goes there and inspires them to attempt the extraordinary. 

Showcasing 24 of the world’s finest big-wave surfers, the largest prize purse in the history of big-wave surfing at $150,000, a groundbreaking live webcast program, and four former Contest Champions, The 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest® Presented by Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks returns once again to the epic Half Moon Bay break.  With the El Niño weather pattern in play this year, this year’s contest promises to be truly memorable.   

The first six competitions at Mavericks covered the spectrum of conditions for the famed spot off Pillar Point. The 1999 inaugural was bogged down by a lingering fogbank and significant tide changes. In 2000, some extremely challenging conditions turned it into one of the greatest big-wave contests ever held. After a three-winter hiatus, competition returned to Mavericks in 2004 and dealt severe punishment to several surfers despite the relatively modest surf size, with Santa Cruz standout Darryl (Flea) Virostko winning for the third straight year. In 2005, Anthony Tashnick’s victory took place in solid 20-foot surf with occasional 25-foot sets (translation:  40- to 50-foot faces).  In truly magical fashion, all of the elements came together for the 2006 event, won by South Africa’s Grant (Twiggy) Baker as perfect weather and a mild offshore wind graced a 20-25-foot swell. Conditions did not allow for a contest in ’07, but another classic day graced the 2008 event, won by Southern California’s Greg Long in 20-foot surf.  Last season, after a monster late November session, the ocean went quiet, thereby increasing the anticipation for the start of the 2009/2010 season. 

According to Official Surf Forecaster Mark Sponsler of Stormsurf.com, fans have reason to be excited about the prospect of big waves this season.  “The El Niño season, which has already begun, should bring a higher number of storms moving from the International Dateline into the Gulf of Alaska than in years previous. Those storms should have the potential to push larger and more consistent surf down the Pacific Coast into California. It’s likely there will be several good opportunities to hold the contest between now and March 31 when the contest window closes.” 

As for the men who will be competing in the Contest, big-wave lineups don’t get much better than the crew at Mavericks, and this year’s event features such longtime standouts as Virostko, Grant Washburn, Peter Mel, Kenny (Skindog) Collins, Matt Ambrose, Shawn Rhodes, Shane Desmond, Tyler Smith and Zach Wormhoudt. Southern California is ably represented by renowned big-wave surfers Evan Slater, Nathan Fletcher and Greg Long, who won the event when it was last held in 2008, and defeated 9-time World Champion Kelly Slater to win in dramatic fashion at this season’s Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event.  International standouts Brock Little, Jamie Sterling and Dave Wassell will make the pilgrimage from Hawaii. Past champions Anthony Tashnick and Baker will return, and for the first time, local legend Ion Banner has been joined by another Half Moon Bay surfer, Tim West. Add the presence of Brazil (Carlos Burle) and South Africa (Baker and Chris Bertish), and this year’s field looks as strong as ever. 

The Official Waiting Period for the 2009/2010 Mavericks Surf Contest® Presented by Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks runs from November 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010.  This year, the decision to call the Contest is in the hands of the 24 Mavericks Competitors.  Once potentially contestable conditions are identified, the ‘24’ will vote to decide whether to pull the trigger and call the contest.  Several swells that hit Mavericks earlier this contest season have given us the opportunity to view this democratic process in action.  While on each occasion the surfers were excited for the arrival of big waves, they recognized that in an El Niño year like this one, there would be plenty of future swells that offer even more desirable conditions.  As such, each time the ‘24’ voted against calling the Contest.        

The 2009/2010 Contest Day will begin at 8 a.m. with the first round of competition, consisting of four, six-man heats with the top three finishers advancing to the semifinals, which will feature two six-man heats.  The top three finishers advance to the six-man final.  All heats are 45 minutes in length.       
   
2009/2010 PRIZE PURSE & AWARDS 

The full slate of sponsors for the 2009/2010 Contest includes Sony Ericsson, Barracuda Networks, Jim Beam® Bourbon, Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, Facebook, the Bay Club, The Corporate Law Group, Gnarly Head Wines, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Airship Ventures, Vertical Response, Surfer Magazine, Oceano Hotel & Spa, Stormsurf.com, Rickshaw Bagworks, GoPro, Mission Chiropractic, and Capture Technologies. 

Highlights this season include Sony Ericsson’s and Barracuda Networks’ Presenting Sponsorship, Jim Beam® Bourbon’s introduction of the “Jim Beam Jersey” and support of Save the Waves, the Gnarly Head Wines “Gnarliest Drop” Award, the Green Team’s renewed efforts to make the Contest as environmentally friendly as possible, and an historic $150,000 prize purse funded by Mavericks benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision and Barracuda Networks. “We’re grateful for the generous support of Sony Ericsson, Barracuda Networks, Jim Beam® Bourbon, Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, and all of our sponsor partners.  We could not produce this year’s event without them,” said Mavericks CEO Keir J. Beadling.  

“We are thrilled that Sony Ericsson is once again a presenting sponsor of the Contest.  We are very fortunate to be able to partner with a company that shares both our passion for innovation as well as our commitment to environmental preservation.”  On Contest day this season, spectators can recycle their old phones at the Sony Ericsson tent or take a minute and recharge their current mobile phones. Any proceeds from the recycling program will be donated to helping our coastline.   

Already having contributed half of the $150,000 prize purse last year, Barracuda Networks will increase its support for this season’s event, joining Sony Ericsson as a Presenting Sponsor for this year’s competition.  “We are pleased to take our relationship with Barracuda Networks to the next level,” said Mavericks CEO Keir J. Beadling.  “By strengthening this partnership and its support of this season’s contest, Barracuda Networks has further pledged its commitment to the athletes who surf Mavericks.”  “Mavericks is globally-recognized as one of the world’s ultimate big wave surfing events and we are thrilled to support the contest and the athletes again this year,” said Michael Perone, executive vice president and CMO of Barracuda Networks. 

Mavericks is also pleased to continue to partner with Jim Beam Bourbon as it introduces the “Jim Beam Jersey” to this year’s lineup—a distinctive jersey to be worn by the 2008 Mavericks Champion as he battles to defend his hard-earned title.  At the conclusion of the competition, 2008 champion Greg Long will either pass this jersey on to this year’s champion, or if he repeats as champion, retain it for another year.  Jim Beam will also offer fans a limited edition Contest label along with a $5,000 donation to benefit Save the Waves—an environmental coalition dedicated to preserving the world’s surf spots and their surrounding environments.  In addition, judges will vote to decide the winner of the $5,000 “Gnarliest Drop” award which is offered to the surfer who pulls off the most impressive drop of the day.  

Mavericks benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision personally funded half of this season’s $150,000 prize purse, and Barracuda Networks doubled it as a show of support for the amazing athletes who lay it all on the line on Contest Day. “We believe Mavericks and the Contest to be a unique event that captures the essence of achieving the impossible. The surfers competing in the event have experience and maturity to manage through a number of challenges, and will share with us some of the most wondrous and impressive exploits. Like Mavericks fans the world over, Jane and I are inspired by this and very proud to be a part of it,” commented Moose Guen. “Barracuda Networks is thrilled to take part in this globally-recognized competition,” said Dean Drako, president and CEO of Barracuda Networks.  “The Mavericks phenomenon embodies the idea that with great risk comes great reward and it is that philosophy that continues to stoke the entrepreneurial fires Barracuda Networks was founded upon.”  

This year, Mavericks will again partner with environmental sponsor Save The Waves to help educate fans about minimizing their impact on the area as well as in their own lives. Building on a highly successful program that produced the world’s first environmentally-neutral surf contest nearly five years ago, the Saves The Waves Green Team will return to ensure Mavericks remains at the forefront of event-based environmental responsibility.  In 2008, Green Team staffers fully separated and recycled 100% of waste on Contest day, yielding just 20 bags of garbage from 50,000 fans. Further, Save The Waves’ participation allows for the continued implementation of Mavericks’ “Eco-Manager” staff role to oversee the entire spectrum of Mavericks’ environmental initiatives, including Mavericks’ use of cutting-edge solar technologies to power all onsite Contest operations in 2009/2010.  

This year’s record-breaking $150,000 prize purse pays out $50,000 for first, $25,000 for second, $15,000 for third, $10,000 for fourth, $8,000 for fifth and $6,000 for sixth.  In the democratic spirit of Mavericks, the remaining 18 competitors will each receive a $2,000 appearance fee. In addition, the prestigious Jay Moriarity Award will once again be presented to the surfer who most exemplifies Jay’s unique spirit.

  
ALTERNATE VIEWING OPTIONS
 

As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce foot traffic at the event and entice fans to experience the Contest remotely, this season Mavericks has launched its most ambitious webcast offering to-date. Millions of fans witnessed the 2008 Contest via a live webcast.  This season,  for the first time ever, fans can catch all the live action at Mavericks’ official website, www.maverickssurf.com.  Also new this year, Mavericks will bring viewers around the world an opportunity to experience the thrill of Mavericks via a live, interactive webcast on Facebook® and Ustream.  The webcasts will be powered by Ustream, the leading live broadcasting platform on the internet. The experiences, available at www.facebook.com/mavericks and http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-2009-2010-mavericks-surf-contest-presented-by-sony-ericsson, will provide fans with an unprecedented level of interactivity while viewing the contest—sharing their thoughts real-time, through Facebook Connect, with other Mavericks fans everywhere.   Fans will also have the option of watching the contest while on the go, thanks to FLO TV, provider of the award-winning live mobile FLO TV™ service. Through the partnership with FLO TV, surf fans will be able to watch the competition on mobile handsets, the FLO TV™ Personal Television and on in-car entertainment systems launching later this year.  More information is available at www.flotv.com 

The day’s activities will again be available via a unique live webcast viewing event at AT&T Park—“baseball’s perfect address” and the home of the San Francisco Giants.  Ticketed fans can watch the Contest live and in high definition on the big screen in centerfield or from any of the big screens throughout the Club level. Tickets for the AT&T Park viewing event will include in and out privileges and can be purchased for $20 in advance, or $25 at AT&T Park or online at www.maverickssurf.com.  Fans who will be in the East Bay can attend a live viewing event at Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland.  The event is free to attend, but space is limited, so fans are encouraged to arrive early.  For more information go to www.misspearlsjamhouse.com 

For those who want to be even closer to the action, Mavericks offers officially-sanctioned boat tours.  These boats are piloted by seasoned, local captains with knowledge of the area around the Mavericks surf break, and guests on the boats are provided with complimentary parking, lunches and official Contest apparel.  *Note: Mavericks strongly discourages anyone from purchasing seats on non-sanctioned boat tours with which Mavericks has no affiliation due to safety risks.  

As always, surfers and fans alike can track the waves, stay informed of webcast information, Contest announcements, signup for Mavericks mail, SMS alerts, purchase official Mavericks gear and buy tickets for the Mavericks Boat Tour and the AT&T Park Viewing Event, at the all-new official Mavericks website, www.maverickssurf.com 

2009 LIST OF INVITEES

Main List Invitees

 

      1. Matt Ambrose: Others may get more publicity, but the 38-year-old Ambrose represents the heart and soul of Mavericks. He was there from the beginning, part of the original, Pacifica-based crew in the early 90s, and if you want to know who rides the deepest, just find out where Ambrose has positioned himself. Grant Washburn likes to joke that if there were no official contest, “We’d just hold the Matt Ambrose Challenge. Whoever gets the biggest, nastiest wave – an Ambrose wave – would win.” Once known as an underground warrior, Ambrose has become an established name after reaching the Mavericks finals in four of the past five contests. 
 
      2. Ben Andrews: This San Francisco-based surfer made a name for himself by catching a huge Mavericks wave in December of ’06, earning him a nomination for the Billabong XXL (worldwide) Monster Paddle-In award. Andrews came back to earn a similar nomination two years ago, an unforgettable image that saw him make a nearly-impossible Mavericks drop before getting buried by an avalanche of whitewater. He has drawn respect by consistently putting in time at the break–a very good way to earn a main-list invitation. 
 
       3. Grant (Twiggy) Baker: Some were surprised when this South African was voted into one of the 2006 contest’s last five slots, having never heard his name. They know it now. Baker, after taking a crash course in Mavericks surfing from Washburn, won the event with a dominant, inspirational performance. A big-wave star in his native country, Baker mastered the difficult Mavericks takeoff in a very short time, performing as if he’d surfed the place for decades. He finished second to Greg Long in the 2008 contest, won for Biggest Wave and Best Overall Performance in this year’s Billabong awards, and shared the experience of a lifetime with Long,  Mike Parsons and Brad Gerlach in January of ‘08, venturing out to Cortes Bank (off the California coast) to tow-surf waves widely recognized as the largest ever surfed. 
 
       4. Ion Banner: For a lot of locals around Half Moon Bay, Banner’s presence truly validates the event. Banner has been charging huge waves along the coast for years, without much fanfare, and he was the first Half Moon Bay surfer ever to make the main list. Always a standout in past contests, Banner gained singular recognition two years ago for his amazing air-drops and whimsical switch-stance maneuvers. He has since become a regular partner with Tim West on tow-in days. 
 
       5. Chris Bertish: South African hellman who once drew notice by surfing Mavericks, then Todos Santos (Mexico) and finally Jaws (Hawaii) on a single swell. Known to pull into any barrel at any size – the quickest way to gain respect in the big-wave surfing community. The South African influence was launched several years ago when Grant Washburn, a regular in the summertime Red Bull contest, told stories of his legendary break back home. Bertish, Twiggy and a few others now try to make at least one Mavericks trip annually. 
 
       6. Carlos Burle: The best-known big-wave rider from Brazil, heralded for his strong performances in Hawaii (he’s a fixture on the Eddie Aikau contest main list), Burle makes sure he visits Maverick’s a few times each winter. He has caught some of the biggest tow-in waves on record, including a kelp-ridden monster at Ghost Tree that earned him 2009 Billabong XXL award nominations for Monster Tube and Ride of the Year. He also won Biggest Wave honors in 2002 for a Mavericks wave measured at 68 feet on the face. 
 
      7. Kenny (Skindog) Collins: Whether it’s tow-surfing or paddling, Collins tends to stand out on the most fearsome days at Mavericks. He pioneered the Northern California tow-in movement with Peter Mel in the late 1990s and was part of a titanic semifinal in the 2000 contest that will go down with the most memorable heats in surfing history. A life-threatening wipeout at “Jaws,” in December of 2004, had Collins pausing to sort out his priorities. But he has bounced back with a vengeance. In the summer of ’06, he came out of a massive tube at Puerto Escondido – one of the most sensational performances ever witnessed at the famed Mexico break – to win both Ride of the Year and Monster Tube in the XXL awards. 
 
       8. Shane Desmond: Undoubtedly the most respected backside surfer in Mavericks history, having ridden the place with fearless abandon since the mid-1990s.  Some say only a crazy man would consistently surf Mavericks with his back to the wave, but Desmond – a low-key bartender for years in his native Santa Cruz — has proven to be an extremely smart, calculating performer. He won the 2005 XXL Paddle-In award for an astounding ride during the Mavericks contest, and he’s an accomplished contest surfer on longboards when the waves drop to more normal levels. 
 
       9. Nathan Fletcher: A number of elite surfers have caught Fletcher’s act over the past few years and pronounced him among the five best big-wave surfers in the world. The youngest son in the noted Fletcher family from Southern California, Nathan shied away from surfing in his youth, only to emerge as a stunningly talented, fearless rider. He’s been a Mavericks standout on huge days, including the storied November ’08 swell described as the best ever for paddle-in conditions, and he staged a sensational early-round performance at the January ’08 Backdoor Shootout in Hawaii on one of the biggest Pipeline days ever ridden in a contest. 
 
       10. Brock Little: It wasn’t easy for Little to return to Mavericks after his first experience — the December 23, 1994 swell that killed his fellow Hawaiian, Mark Foo. Little nearly met his own demise that day, but he always makes a point of coming back for the Mavericks contest. Forever known for his epic takeoff on a 60-foot face in the 1990 Eddie Aikau contest, and more recently as a sought-after Hollywood stuntman, the 41-year-old Little has a solid Mavericks record: seventh in 1999, seventh (in a tie with Jay Moriarity) in 2000,  another equal seventh (with Shawn Rhodes) in 2005, and third place in 2006. 
 
       11. Greg Long: He’s the king of hardware, consistently racking up awards in the annual Billabong XXL judging, but the most accurate measurement is his heart. With a calm, almost stunningly humble demeanor, Long blends into the scene wherever he goes – while catching the craziest, largest waves. Among his Billabong trophies: Biggest Wave (Dungeons, South Africa) in 2007, Best Overall Performance and Biggest Paddle-In (Todos Santos) in 2008, and Ride of the Year (Dungeons) in 2009.  In December of 2007, he surfed a single swell in Hawaii, Northern California and Mexico over the course of 72 hours – an unprecedented feat.  And he rode that biggest-ever day with Twiggy and friends two years ago at Cortes Bank. The essence of Greg’s spirit, though, came in the ’08 Mavericks contest. Waiting out a lull during the final, Long and the other five surfers agreed to split the winnings equally – no matter who came out on top. Long wound up winning in picture-perfect conditions and drew worldwide respect for his sportsmanship.  Long added to his growing legend with a stirring come-from-behind victory at the 2009 Eddie Aikau event, defeating 9-time World Champion Kelly Slater. 
 
       12. Josh Loya: This West Side/Santa Cruz veteran has admitted to a fear of heights, but staring down the ledge of a Mavericks beast doesn’t seem to bother him. Respected worldwide for his grace and elegance in any conditions, Loya has been surfing Mavericks for years, graduating effortlessly into the tow-in movement while keeping in touch with his paddle-in skills. Like his Santa Cruz compatriots Mel and Richard Schmidt, Loya became a polished surfer through years of lengthy wintertime pilgrimages to Hawaii. 
 
       13. Peter Mel: To say that he’s “due” would be putting it mildly. For years, Mel has been the hands-down choice as Mavericks most talented, influential surfer. He helped launch the Northern California tow-in movement and ranks with Schmidt as the best-known Northern California surfers in Hawaiian events (especially the Aikau contest) over the years. But he still hasn’t won at Mavericks, having fallen victim to bad luck, bad timing, and (in his opinion) perhaps a dubious judging call or two. Two years ago, when he finished fourth in his first-round heat, might have been his biggest disappointment. If for nothing beyond his peace of mind, Mel needs this trophy. 
 
       14. Shawn Rhodes: Work and family commitments have become recent priorities for the longtime owner of the NorCal surf shop in Pacifica, but the 39-year-old Rhodes is still known for his willingness to challenge the most punishing conditions at Mavericks. He’s been a main-list entrant since the contest first began and has shown a thirst for getting in the tube – no mean feat at this spot. Around Pacifica, where veteran Dick Keating is king, Rhodes and Ambrose are considered the pillars of the modern-day generation. 
 
       15. Ryan Seelbach: Out of San Francisco, where he hones his big-water skills at the challenging Ocean Beach, Seelbach is no stranger to Mavericks’ chaos. He managed to advance out of his first heat in the 2005 contest despite having to retrieve his lost board from the distant lagoon. He missed much of the ’06 winter after breaking his foot during a tow-in session. But he has become a highly esteemed regular, reaching the semifinals two years ago, and he was a standout during the mind-blowing December ’07 tow-in sessions that marked some of the biggest waves ever ridden at Mavericks. 
 
        16. Evan Slater: In methodical, relentless fashion, Slater is making his mark as one of the all-time greats of big-wave riding. A number of things could have sidetracked him – becoming editor of Surfing Magazine, raising a family, taking a career-threatening wipeout (forcing major knee surgery) at Mavericks – but it seems he’s always there when it matters. It took a great performance from Flea Virostko to keep Slater from winning the 2004 contest (he finished second). Emerging from a tough semifinal in 2006, he placed an overall sixth while taking one of his signature wipeouts along the way. He finished sixth again in ‘08. 
 
         17. Tyler Smith: People saw photos and videos of Smith riding the surrealistically large “Ghost Tree” break, in Monterey, and wondered, “Who is this guy?” They have found the answer in Mavericks contests, where the Santa Cruz-based Smith finished third in 2005 (sliding into the main draw as an alternate and surfing his way into the final), second in the 2006 event and fourth in 2008. Those are the last three Mavericks contests to be held, and Smith is the only man to have reached all three finals. 
 
       18. Jamie Sterling: Just as the Ken Bradshaw-Mark Foo crew gave way to the Brock Little generation, Sterling heads up the new wave of Hawaiian big-wave surfers, joining the likes of Mark Healey, Jamie O’Brien, Makua Rothman and Kalani Chapman as constant threats on the storied North Shore reefs. While many Hawaiians prefer the paradise of their home setting, Sterling travels extensively and has become a regular on the worldwide big-wave circuit.  In the 2006 Billabong XXL awards, he took the trophy for Best Overall Performance. He finished an impressive third in the 2008 Mavericks contest, after dominating his first two heats, and he won the Jay Moriarity Award that day for the spirit best exemplifying the late, great Santa Cruz surfer. 
 
        19. Anthony Tashnick: A legend at 16, when he stepped up to ride what many called the “wave of the winter” at Mavericks in 2001, Tashnick is now a mainstay in the world of big-wave riding. The latest in a long line of chargers from the West Side of Santa Cruz, Tashnick won the 2005 Mavericks contest in such dominant fashion, there was no question who would take home the trophy. Well-traveled in his thirst for big waves, Tashnick has made the alternate list of the prestigious Eddie Aikau contest three straight years. 
 
        20. Darryl (Flea) Virostko:  We find a different Flea this year. In the summer of 2008, Virostko revealed that he is an alcoholic and had fallen deeply into a methamphetamine habit. He went into rehab that August, got himself clean, and recently established his own Santa Cruz center for drug-and-alcohol recovery, known as FleaHab. After two years of what he called “heavy” meth abuse, Virostko proclaimed, “I’m a new person now. I’m just fortunate I got out of (that period) without any felonies, without any DUIs, without killing someone. And I still have my physical health.” His surfing, of course, needs no introduction. He won each of the first three Mavericks contests (1999, 2000 and 2004), and in a sport where classic wipeouts make history, Flea owns two: an epic free-fall during the 2004 Aikau contest and an inside-the-lip Mavericks disaster in December ’07 on a face conservatively measured at 65 feet. No longer a crazy man on land, he’d like to prove he still has his legendary talent in the water. 
 
      21. Grant Washburn: From his filmmaking to his work on the book “Inside Maverick’s” to his constant presence in the lineup, Washburn is one of the leading spokesmen on Mavericks. He has no problem surfing it alone, in contrary winds, in fearsome conditions that would scare most people away. It is widely believed that Washburn puts in more Mavericks time than anyone, and not since Greg Noll has any big-wave rider been so doubly proficient at performance and documentation. Grant has produced two surf films, and with a massive personal collection of big-wave footage and interviews, he has much more in store. Always a standout at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach and the Red Bull/South Africa contest, Washburn was a Mavericks finalist in 2004, 2006 and 2008. 
 
       22. Dave Wassel: Mavericks locals welcomed this longtime underground charger from Hawaii, where he serves as a North Shore lifeguard and ranks among the most respected members of the Pipeline crew. His first-ever wave at Mavericks three years ago, a bomb from well outside the bowl, nearly gained him the XXL Paddle-In award. He now makes Mavericks a priority, surfing with distinction during the epic November ’08 swell, and he made the semifinals two years ago after gaining entry as an alternate. “You can’t compare this place to Hawaii,” he says. “It’s got cold water, giant sharks, giant waves and giant rocks. It’s like nothing else.” 
 
       23. Tim West: The best of the up-and-coming generation from the Half Moon Bay coastside, West is confident, level-headed and a regular whenever Mavericks is going off. Considering all of the other Mavericks hazards, most surfers would be “over it” if they ever saw a shark out there. Back in November of 2005, West actually had a shark rise from the depths and crash into his surfboard as he was paddling out. West was shaken, especially when he saw a shark’s tooth embedded in his board, but he never lost his commitment to surfing the place. He now comes off a summer mostly dedicated to riding giant barrels at Puerto Escondido, Mexico. 
 
       24. Zach Wormhoudt: Another key member of the West Side crew from Santa Cruz, Wormhoudt got some long-overdue recognition in 2004, when he won the Billabong XXL Award for the biggest paddle-in wave of the winter. He is among the most accomplished tow-surfers in the world, earning a Biggest Wave nomination in last winter’s Billabong XXL awards for a ride at Nelscott Reef, Oregon. But he is most true to his paddling and is among the most consistently solid performers in the history of the Mavericks contest, having finished eighth in 1999, fifth in 2000 and fourth in 2005. 
 

THE ALTERNATES

(In order of priority)

         

     1. Alex Martins: It’s rare that more than one alternate makes the contest in any given year, so this is a coveted spot. A Brazilian surfer now based in San Francisco, where he lives a stone’s throw from Ocean Beach, Martins has been charging hard at Mavericks. He had three separate photographs nominated for last winter’s Billabong Monster Paddle award, all from November 29 at Mavericks. 
 
     2. Danilo Couto: Emerging from the shadow of Brazilian countryman Carlos Burle, Couto gained a main-list entry in 2008 on the basis of his semifinal performance as an alternate in 2006. An extremely talented backsider who managed to stand out on the historic but overly crowded Jaws (Maui) session of December 15, 2004, Couto has made several trips to Mavericks while showing the one trait these guys all have in common: He has no fear. 
 
     3. Mark Healey:  Probably the best combination of big-wave rider and all-around waterman in Hawaii, at least among the younger generation. The well-traveled Healey tends to show up on the best Northern California days, including Mavericks in November of ’08 and Ghost Tree in December ’07. Won the Monster Tube award in this year’s Billabong XXL contest, at a mysto spot identified only as “the Pacific northwest.” 
 
     4. Tyler Fox: A standout at Mavericks but best known for a mind-blowing performance at Ghost Tree during the giant swell of December ’07, when one of his rides earned him a Billabong nomination for Biggest Wave. Fox cracked the alternate list last year after his consistently solid performances at Mavericks. 
 
     5. Rusty Long: Brother of Greg, with a low-key approach that has kept him somewhat off the radar, but he is widely recognized as a major player in any conditions. Nominated for the 2007 XXL Ride of the Year for a wave he scored at Puerto Escondido (Mexico) – and he was paddle-surfing that day, while most everyone else was towing. 
 
     6. Nic Lamb: Clearly the best of the new generation of Santa Cruz surfers charging Mavericks. Says fellow West Sider Kenny Collins, “He’s in the top 20 big-wave riders in the world, and he’ll be in the top five in a couple of years.” Added Collins, with a smile, “Nic has an incredible talent to irritate people. You like him or you hate him. Every once in a while, I have to slap him.” 
 
     7. Jamie Mitchell: Known as unquestionably the best open-ocean paddler in the world, a man who consistently dominates the challenging Molokai-to-Oahu event in Hawaii, this Australian waterman has made a recent commitment to Mavericks and has ridden some giant waves during tow-in sessions. 
 
     8. Mike Gerhardt: Santa Cruz veteran and a respected underground charger who has been a main-list entry in the past but has been slowed by a number of injuries, including a broken arm and torn rotator cuff. Mike’s big-wave-surfing wife, Sarah, is the subject of the heralded film “One Winter Story.” 
 
     9. Russell Smith: One of the 2006 semifinals found Russell in the same heat with his brother, Tyler. Although he didn’t advance, Russell proved his worth as a main-list entrant and gained an automatic berth two years ago. Based on their performances at Ghost Tree and Mavericks, it won’t be long until the Smiths find their names alongside Malloy, McNamara, Keaulana, Long and Irons among the top brother acts in big-wave surfing. 
 
     10. Kealii Mamala: Native Hawaiian has ridden several big waves at Mavericks over the past three seasons, including the giant tow-in swell of December of ‘07. He and his tow-in partner, Garrett McNamara, made history in the summer of ’07 by surfing an Alaskan wave created by ice chunks falling off a melting glacier. 
 
     11. Garrett McNamara: Surfers often talk about jet-setting their way through the big-wave universe, but the Hawaii-based McNamara truly lives the dream. He is best known for tow-in expeditions, but as a longtime local legend at Sunset and Pipeline, McNamara can paddle-surf with anyone. In a tribute to his versatility and dedication, he won Biggest Paddle-In (Mavericks) and Best Overall Performance in the 2007 XXL awards. 
 
     12. Andrew Marr: This talented South African spends most of his winters in Hawaii, but he nearly pulled off the 2007 Billabong Ride of the Year (a crazy tow-in barrel at Dungeons) and has been part of several memorable sessions at Mavericks. “Happiest guy in the lineup, whether it’s 3 feet or 30,” says Grant Washburn. “A classic personification of stoke.” 
 
     13. Lawton Smith: Goofy-foot rider out of Pacifica, following the path of Matt Ambrose and Shawn Rhodes as standout Mavericks surfers from that area. Has been committed to the place for years, and this marks his second appearance on the alternate list. 
 
     14. John Whittle: As Grant Washburn describes him, “A South African legend. The stories are almost too radical to believe, until you meet the guy and see him in the water.” A die-hard paddler from Cape Town, Whittle refuses to consider towing, even in waves surpassing 25 feet. He won the 2006 Red Bull/South Africa contest over a cast of all-stars and would love to prove his worth at Mavericks. 
 
     15. Colin Dwyer: A son of Northern California big-wave mainstay Steve Dwyer, Colin has won a number of local contests and is making his name in the big-wave arena. Proved his worth by catching some bombs during the November ’08 swell at Mavericks.
 

THE ‘24’ DECIDE 

One of the most innovative features of this year’s event is the fact that the 24 invitees will be voting on when to call the contest.  Once potentially contestable conditions are identified, the ‘24’ will vote on whether the green light should be given.  Added Mavericks CEO Keir J. Bealding, “If they say ‘go,’ we go, and that’s exactly the way it should be at Mavericks.”  Such a development is the first instance in big-wave contest history of the decision to call the contest being placed squarely in the hands of the surfers themselves.  In order for the contest to be called, a majority of the 24 contestants must cast a vote of “yes.”  We have already witnessed such a vote take place on a few occasions this season when the surfers voted against calling the contest on Saturday, November 7, Wednesday, December 9, and Wednesday, January 13.  

Commenting on how the voting process played out for the November 7th swell, San Francisco native and 2009/2010 invitee Ben Andrews said, “I think everyone involved in the event would like to see big surf with optimal conditions.  Thanks to accurate local forecasting, it became clear by Thursday (November 5th) that we would have the swell, but that the conditions would be less than ideal.  The unanimous vote not to hold the contest was a good indicator of the 24′s ability to make a good judgment call.  We’ll be patient and look forward to holding the event when all of the elements combine for the perfect day.”  Speaking on the change in how the contest call is made, fellow invitee Ryan Seelbach added, “We were always wondering when it was going to be called and we never knew. We’d hear rumors and so now we have one of the best surf forecasters on board, he’s feeding us information, and we’re kind of going by gut feel.” 

With the presence of an El Niño weather pattern this season, most are confident that several contest-worthy swells will appear this year.  Mavericks veteran and 2009/2010 invitee Kenny “Skindog” Collins summed up his feelings towards this year’s Contest, commenting, “This Mavericks Contest combined with this season’s El Niño is going to be historic!”  A look back at past El Niño seasons gives plenty of cause for this sort of optimism.  There were 55 rideable days during the epic El Nino season of ‘97-98 and, amazingly, more than 80 such days the following year. Conditions run the gamut from smooth, glassy and 15 feet to a stormy, chaotic 40 feet – Hawaiian style.  For most who surf Mavericks, the key is finding a day that combines the best of tide, wind and swell.   

LONG LOOKS TO ADD TO LEGACY 

Greg Long enters this year’s contest as the most accomplished big-wave contest surfer in the world. On a sunny December day at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, Long won the prestigious Eddie Aikau contest in waves up to 50 feet on the face. Long not only became the first Californian ever to win that event, which was celebrating its 25-year anniversary, but gained the distinction of holding both the Eddie Aikau and Mavericks trophies simultaneously, having won at Mavericks when it was last held in 2008.

 
Add Long’s title in the 2003 Red Bull contest at Dungeons, South Africa, and he stands alone as the only surfer to win each of the so-called Triple Crown events of big-wave paddle surfing. 
As a student of big-wave history since his childhood in San Clemente, California, Long was greatly moved by his victory at the Eddie Aikau contest, and he appeared stunned to be standing in triumph alongside some of the most storied names on the islands. The Eddie is not an elimination event; all 28 surfers compete in separate one-hour heats, and the scores are tallied up at the end of the day. Long was almost completely out of the running after a lackluster first heat, but he staged a dominant four-wave performance in the afternoon, scoring a perfect 100 by safely getting to the bottom on one of the biggest, nastiest waves of the day. That edged him into first place ahead of Kelly Slater, the legendary pro-tour surfer who seemed to have the contest wrapped up after his spectacular first heat.

 
Long has made a habit of chasing big swells around the world, and Mavericks standout Grant Washburn probably put it best when he said, “Greg has probably ridden more big waves in his young life than other guys have ever got. Every time there’s a big swell anywhere in the world, he’s there.””
 

THE JAY MORIARITY AWARD

 
Jay Moriarity symbolized perfection in big-wave surfing. He rode giant swells effortlessly, joyously, with a big smile on his face. The bigger it got, the more he liked it.  The Mavericks crew always felt a little better when they saw Jay in the lineup, because it meant raw aggression and a totally positive attitude – two very vital components in life-and-death conditions.  Back on land, Jay was about the most radiant human being anyone had come across.  Known for his childlike smile and great humility, he set the standards of behavior for surfers or anyone else.  
 
Moriarity, who carved his place in surfing lore by taking an epic Mavericks wipeout at the age of 16, died seven years ago – only hours before his 23rd birthday.  He was free-diving in the Maldives, a famed surfing spot off the southern coast of India, when he suffered a shallow-water blackout, slipped into unconsciousness and never recovered.  His loss was felt deeply in the surfing world, particularly in his native Santa Cruz, where friends and family mounted a touching tribute along the white picket fence near Pleasure Point, one of his favorite breaks. Now he is remembered in the form of the Jay Moriarity Award, given to the contest surfer who best exemplifies Jay’s spirit.     

In an announcement met with unanimous approval, the inaugural (2004) award went to Grant Washburn – “a great surfer and just a good guy in general,” said Flea Virostko. “Everybody out there respects Grant. He deserved it.” The 2005 recipient was Pacifica’s Matt Ambrose, whose distinguished Mavericks surfing has been matched by his dignity and humility. South Africa’s Grant (Twiggy) Baker, known for his jovial and outgoing temperament, added the award to his overall contest victory in 2006, and Hawaii’s super-stoked Jamie Sterling won it in 2008.

 
WHAT THEY’RE RIDING
 

Nothing will ever diminish the distinction between short boards and big-wave “guns,” but the tow-in movement has had a significant impact on Mavericks equipment.  Because tow-in surfers wear foot straps, they can surf huge waves on six or seven foot boards.  This development has changed many surfers’ approach to paddle-in surfing.   

Five years ago, Mavericks boards ranged from around 9-6 to 11-0.  Nine-footers were fairly common in the lineup in 2008, and several surfers have recently experimented with boards in the 8-6 range and below. A lot of big-wave surfers like single-fin boards, for no other setup works quite as well for a steep drop and a long, carving bottom turn. But most Mavericks surfers prefer three-fin boards for the maneuverability they get on the wave face. Some have even tried four fins, with considerable success. 
 
JUDGING 

Contest judging will be in the hands of renowned Southern California surfing judge Gary Linden and his crew, stationed in boats as well as on land, perched on the edge of Pillar Point. Judging was handled strictly from the water until 2006, which brought a welcome change. “From a boat, you get the best possible view of the really heavy drops, but Mavericks is so much more than that,” says longtime standout Peter Mel. “On the really good days, it’s like a massive point break, just peeling perfectly down the line, and it doesn’t lose much steam until you’re way over at the edge of the rocks. A lot of us got some of these rides in previous Contests, but it didn’t do us any good, because the judges couldn’t see it.   I think the new format makes it a lot more fair, and it encourages guys to finish some of those longer rides.  It might also inspire someone to go left, which you don’t see too often.” 
 
Still, the most significant factor in judging will be the drop, and the deepest positioning. If two surfers ride the same wave, there will not be an automatic interference call. However, the surfer farthest from the peak will receive no score and is at risk of being penalized if he hinders the scoring potential of the inside surfer. 
 
Only a surfer’s best two scores will count in a given heat. As a further incentive to wait for the biggest waves, the top-scoring ride of each competitor will be doubled in value. Then his second-best score is added to determine his heat total. The idea is to get surfers to wait for the biggest, most impressive waves. As an example, if a surfer gets scores of 9 and 2, that exceptional wave will give him the advantage (20 points total) over someone who gets two 6-point rides (18 points total). 

FEAR AND THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR 

It seldom takes long for any big-wave season to get scary. Three years ago, there were two shark sightings within a one-week period: One off the North Jetty, near Pillar Point, and one in the Mavericks break itself, where surfer Tim West tried to keep his wits about him as a great white shark took a bite out of his board.  
 
The incidents recalled the opener of the 2000 Mavericks season, when a shark plowed into the underside of Peck Ewing’s board (he was unhurt), and an episode the following year when a couple of Santa Barbara surfers motored out by jet-ski to catch a few waves. Although they didn’t realize it until they got back home, there were distinct teeth marks on their rescue sled, made of a bodyboard-like substance. After checking around, they concluded without hesitation that the marks were made by a great white shark. 
 
It’s frightening to think about all the sharks out there,” says Grant Washburn, who rides the spot religiously. “Usually, they rank about sixth or seventh on the things you have to worry about.  I’m not sure that is the case now.”
 

Although exceptions are made in rare cases, Contest organizers are generally wary of inviting surfers who haven’t ridden Mavericks before.  Most big-wave surfers wouldn’t have the slightest reservation about paddling into 15-18-foot Waimea Bay, Todos Santos (Mexico) or Makaha for the very first time.  But Mavericks is different. Big-wave icon Mark Foo died on his first session at Mavericks, in December of ‘94.  Several others have come perilously close (on a single December day last winter, four surfers had to endure two-wave hold-downs). And for some, one trip is too many. They paddle out, take one look and paddle right back in, never to return. 
 
Even now, with the Mavericks lure and mystique in full bloom, only a handful of people have ridden the place with a vengeance. Such out-of-town surfers as Garrett McNamara, Carlos Burle, Ross Clarke-Jones, Tom Curren, Mark Healey, Taylor Knox, Chris and Dan Malloy, and Keoni Watson have surfed it, but as the winter of 2008-09 began, the likes of Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Shane Dorian, Rob Machado, Darrick Doerner and Brian Keaulana had never ridden the place.

 
What makes Mavericks different?  Have you got a few hours?  Name a category, and Mavericks takes you on a singular path. For one thing, there is no beach.  At most spots, tired or injured surfers can just surrender and let the whitewater wash them onto the sand.  The “inside” at Mavericks is an array of huge, jagged rocks – negotiable if you know the gaps, but deadly if you’re exhausted or struggling a bit.  
 
The cold Northern California water – usually somewhere between 48 and 55 degrees in the dead of winter – has single-handedly kept Mavericks from becoming an international scene.  Unlikely as it may sound, only two Hawaiian surfers, McNamara and Ken Bradshaw, have made regular trips to Mavericks since it became popular in 1992.  Others have come once, maybe two or three times, and then retreated to more familiar, tropical waters. 
 
A few years back, a prominent Hawaiian big-wave surfer said it flat-out: “I can tell you right now I’ll never, ever surf Mavericks.  Just because of the cold water.  Period. I’ll never go there.”  Dan Moore, who came from Hawaii on a tow-in surf mission several years ago, said: “I have so much respect for the guys who surf there all the time. They’re polar bears.” 
 
Shark stories may be a back-burner item for those who devote their lives to Mavericks, but they exist. Veteran big-wave rider Dr. Mark Renneker was out one afternoon when he saw a shark and paddled hastily to shore.  One helicopter pilot swears he once saw a shark follow a surfer for a couple hundred yards as he was paddling in. Then there’s the often-told story of a Hawaiian surfer who found himself surfing Mavericks alone one afternoon.  First he saw a seal, then a sea otter, then a hefty sea lion, then an elephant seal.  A little while later, at nearly point-blank range, a gray whale came noisily to the surface.  “I was out of there,” he said. “I didn’t want to know what was coming next.” 
 
Other horrors include a south-to-north current, on west swells, eliminating any chance for surfers to swim out of trouble; the open-ocean setting (nearly a half-mile from shore), creating unusually thick and powerful waves, and the peak. “The pit,” as it’s known at Mavericks.   At most spots, even Waimea Bay, the best surfers launch into a wave at its apex – even behind the peak, in some cases.  When Mavericks breaks at 20-foot plus (think 40-foot drops; some of the locals swear they’ve seen 80-foot faces out there), nobody goes near the peak without a tow-in crew. Case closed.  
 
In the years of heavy exposure to the surfing world, there has been no evidence that a surfer can paddle into that peak under his own power and make it to the bottom. Even Bradshaw, one of the most serious big-wave warriors in the history of the sport, came to that conclusion early on.  “So when it’s really big, if you don’t have the benefit of towing in, you take off a little bit on the shoulder,” says Washburn. “Without any guilt whatsoever. In the end, you’d prefer to live.” 

THE APPEAL OF MAVERICKS 

Once you get past the stark setting, the rocks, the sharks, the chill and the peak, you realize why Mavericks is widely considered the best big wave in the world. On good days, it seems to go on forever. 
 
Mavericks is a world-class wave mostly for the drop, the seemingly endless descent into the trough and the precise bottom turn required to get around a fearsome explosion of whitewater. After that, life is good.  Maintain your composure and you’ll be gliding safely into a channel.   
 
Mavericks is not only huge, steep and terrifying, it acts like a point break on the best days, constantly jacking up in a down-the-line pattern as it hits a succession of shallow spots in the reef. “The inside can be unbelievably challenging,” says Santa Cruz standout Peter Mel. “I mean, it’s got everything you want in a good wave – speed, tube rides, the chance to maneuver – with the added element of size.” 
 
To top it off, Mavericks also has a left. Only a few surfers have even attempted to go left, because the peak is even steeper and less negotiable in that direction, but it can be done. When Mavericks surfers talk about the future, they talk about someone pulling into that left tube and making it out on a legitimately big day. It hasn’t happened yet. 

ENVIRONMENTAL RELATIONSHIPS 

Mavericks is a natural phenomenon and Contest organizers and the heroes who surf the break hold the environment in high esteem.  In 2006, organizers launched an historic, innovative initiative to make the Contest the first-ever “climate neutral” surfing event.  The goal of this effort was to ensure that the environmental impact of the Contest was offset and that the site at Half Moon Bay was left in the same or better condition than prior to the event.   Organizers have continued to push their environmental responsibility message, utilizing biodiesel to fuel event-based operations in 2008, and now solar power for this coming 2009/2010 event, while providing Mavericks fans everywhere with information and impetus to reduce their own carbon footprint. 
           
This year, Save The Waves will again be partnering with Mavericks to ensure the onsite presence of the Save The Waves Green Team to assist spectators in recycling and packing their trash on contest day.  Save the Waves’ goal is to preserve and protect the best surfing locations on the planet, and to educate the public about their value. The group often works in partnership with local communities, foreign governments, and other conservation groups. 
 

Additionally, Save The Waves recently announced the preliminary results of its “Surfonomics” study on the impact of the Mavericks wave to the regional economy in and around Half Moon Bay. The study found that the world-famous break and surrounding area has an estimated economic value of nearly $24 million per year, based on approximately 420,000 annual visitors. “Mavericks is an iconic, world-renowned surf break that’s truly unique,” said Save The Waves executive director Dean LaTourrette. “This study provides evidence of not just its environmental value, but of its economic value as well. This further reinforces the notion that it and other special coastal areas around the world need and deserve to be protected.”  The study was conducted by University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, in partnership with the Center for Responsible Travel at Stanford University, under the guidance of Save The Waves Coalition.  The study and others like it will also help support a larger initiative launched by Save The Waves in 2008, the World Surfing Reserves program – which aims to proactively designate and protect the world’s greatest waves and their surrounding environments. More information is available at www.savethewaves.org.    

  
Contest organizers work closely with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS), to protect the wildlife and the habitats of the part of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Sanctuary) where the contest takes place. GFNMS enforces the rules and regulations designed to protect one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet. Since the contest takes place during a time in which seabirds and marine mammals are engaged in breeding activities or in migrating through, the sanctuary will help to minimize wildlife disturbance and provide information to attendees about minimizing their impact on the environment.     

  
Other environmental associates working closely with Mavericks to ensure that the ocean, beach and surrounding area are protected are:  
 
San Mateo County Harbor District: The Harbor District exists to ensure that the public is provided with clean, safe, well-managed, and environmentally-sound marinas. The organization’s Pillar Point Harbor facility at Half Moon Bay in Princeton is a working fishing harbor that serves as the base station for numerous Contest Day operations and services including parking, event viewing, boat launchings, and the awards ceremony. 
 
The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve: This marine reserve was established in 1969 to protect hundreds of marine plant and animal species. Since becoming a protected area, scientists have been able to study this rich and complex habitat, and in the process have discovered 25 new marine invertebrate and plant species, as well as several endemic species (those that live nowhere else but at the preserve). This spectacular stretch of coastline includes a shallow marine shelf that is exposed during low tides.

 
Thank You Ocean: NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program and the State of California Resources Agency are partners in the California Public Awareness Campaign “Thank You Ocean.” The campaign is a grassroots effort with the support of the California Ocean Communicators Alliance, a group of more than 100 ocean-related organizations, agencies and businesses in California. “Thank You Ocean” calls attention to the ocean as a vital resource and asks all Californians to visit
www.thankyouocean.org to find out how to help.  

Mavericks also work closely with the California Coastal Commission, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, World Savvy, Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce Eco-Tourism Initiative, Livability Project, San Mateo County History Museum. 
 

CONTEST HISTORY 

1999 FINAL RESULTS 
1st – Darryl Virostko 
2nd – Richard Schmidt 
3rd – Ross Clarke-Jones 
4th —Peter Mel 
5th – Jay Moriarity 
6th – Josh Loya 
 
2000 FINAL RESULTS 
1st – Darryl Virostko 
2nd – Kelly Slater 
3rd – Tony Ray 
4th – Peter Mel 
5th – Zach Wormhoudt 
6th – Matt Ambrose
 

2004 FINAL RESULTS 
1st – Darryl Virostko 
2nd – Evan Slater 
3rd – Peter Mel 
4th – Anthony Tashnick 
5th – Matt Ambrose 
6th – Grant Washburn 

2005 FINAL RESULTS 
1st – Anthony Tashnick  
2nd – Greg Long  
3rd – Tyler Smith  
4th – Zach Wormhoudt  
5th – Shane Desmond  
6th – Matt Ambrose 

2006 FINAL RESULTS 
1st   Grant Baker 
2nd  Tyler Smith 
3rd  Brock Little 
4th  Matt Ambrose 
5th  Grant Washburn 
6th  Evan Slater 
 
2007 FINAL RESULTS 
The 2007 Mavericks Surf Contest® was not called due to lack of contestable swell.
 

2008 FINAL RESULTS

1st Greg Long

2nd Grant (Twiggy) Baker

3rd Jamie Sterling

4th Tyler Smith

5th Grant Washburn

6th Evan Slater 

2009 FINAL RESULTS

The 2009 Mavericks Surf Contest®  was not called due to lack of contestable swell.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.