Mavericks (a surf spot named after Jeff Clark’s dog) is also synonymous with the word “rebel”. It is no wonder that in such terms, controversy naturally follows. Unfortunately, the wave size did not reach the heights of the controversy.
Mavericks has held quite the reputation! In 1994, Mark Foo, a legendary big-wave surfer from Hawaii died while surfing Mavericks. Almost two years ago this Friday, the surf community lost a dear friend and well-respected big wave surfer, Sion Milosky, weeks after another surfer nearly drowned. On Sunday, crowds cheered for surfer Nathan Fletcher, a man who has had an intense relationship with Mavericks ever since he found Sion's lifeless body.
Due to wave inconsistency and difficulty in holding down sponsors, the event was put on hold for nearly two years. This year, GoPro stepped up to sponsor this event. In 2010, crashing waves injured spectators. As a result, this year, officials barred crowds from congregating on the beach and bluffs at Pillar Point. This produced a whole new set of problems. While no spectators were hurt, the very word spectator implies watching or viewing the surf competition. Despite the nearly 30 foot waves being produced a half-mile offshore, it was impossible to view the surfing competition from Half Moon Bay without a TV or a telescope. A foiled view did not, however, suppress mass crowds in the tens of thousands from gathering under warm, clear skies. Crowds congregated in beer gardens, around iPhones, and local watering holes to get a better view of the happenings. Organizers created a festival area with a big screen in a shopping mall parking lot so that fans could see the competition up close. There was also a live stream that worked sporadically. Several observers were not thrilled with the location choice or the intermittent contest coverage.
But then again, others complained that there was not much to see. Some were angry that the competition was not postponed. There just was not enough surf and there were extensive lulls between sets. It was rumored that in the second heat of the day, 38 minutes out of 50 minutes passed by without a single rideable wave in sight… but who’s counting? Some suspected that the only reason organizers pushed going forward with the event was the hope of capitalizing on the major motion picture, Chasing Mavericks.
To add to the drama of it all, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater withdrew from the 8th edition of the Mavericks Invitational. He told news sources it was because it was not a sanctioned world tour event.
No one likes controversy. Yet, out of this controversy came some of the most redemptive moments in surfing history. Firstly, it was honoring of those big wave surfers who had passed on. Secondly, Peter Mel won and finally got the recognition that he deserves. Mel, now 43 years old, spends much of his time marketing for Quiksilver in Huntington Beach. He had spent a large portion of his surfing career among the likes of Flea and Jeff Clark but had never finished higher than third place during the contest. Mel split his $50,000 pot with the six finalists in keeping with the Maverick’s tradition. Thirdly, Greg Long, who had almost drowned surfing back in December was back in the running, finishing in third place. Lastly, although the colossal waves were late to the party on Sunday, the finals made for a riveting surf competition for the many spectators to enjoy whether it was from a parking lot, a watering hole, or their choice of tech devices.
2013 Mavericks Invitational Results
1. Peter Mel, Santa Cruz
2. Zach Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz
3. Greg Long, San Clemente
4. Alex Martins, San Francisco
5. Mark Healey, Hawaii
6. Shawn Dollar, Santa Cruz
For more info, photos and to check out Mark Healey’s epic ride visit: