The waiting game begins. When things look like this at Half Moon Bay, the contest will be a go. Photo: English
January 9, 2009: – – It's official – The 2009 Mavericks Surf Contest waiting period has begun. On Tuesday, more than two-dozen of the best big-wave surfers from around the world, along with their families, friends and media, assembled on the beach at Pillar Point to celebrate the opening of the new 2009 Contest season.
The only big-wave paddle-in contest on the mainland, Mavericks has a waiting period from January 1, 2009 to March 31, 2009. During this window, the 24 invited surfers will be waiting for the "perfect storm" to produce waves 30-40 feet high and for Contest Director Jeff Clark to give the green light for the event.
The opening ceremonies began in true Mavericks tradition with the annual photo shoot of the invitees and alternates lining the beach with their big-wave "guns" behind them.
Clark gave a short address acknowledging the skill, commitment and courage that each of the watermen standing in front of him possess, and savored the moment: "We have to be the luckiest people in the world to do what we do in such a wonderful place," Clark remarked. "Mavericks puts everyone to the test; remember how precious time is on this earth."
Clark then introduced each of the surfers to the enthusiastic crowd, one-by-one, highlighting their contribution to the Contest and to the sport of big-wave surfing.
This year's Contest includes invitees from Brazil, Hawaii, South Africa and the mainland United States. All then paddled out towards Mavericks to join hands and form a traditional circle to honor the new big-wave season at Mavericks.
Clark personally thanked the surfers for being a part of this year's event, reflected on the bond they all share with each other, their respect for Mother Nature, and prayed for a successful and safe event.
The ceremonies continued into the evening with a reception at Sam's Chowder House where the surfers and their friends and families gathered for food, fun and the highly anticipated heat drawings.
The evening felt like a family reunion as guests brought their children, talked about their surfing plans for the future and shared their individual experiences with the massive surf that has swept through California already this big-wave season.
Guests enjoyed Sierra Nevada on tap, and were treated throughout the night to the sounds of local surf band extraordinaire The Wander Inn's. Each competitor also received a limited edition Mavericks/Jim Beam gift bottle.
The Field is Set
Unlike other big-wave contests, Mavericks invitees draw numbered golf balls to determine whom they will compete against in the six-man, first round heats. The invitees themselves have chosen this method of seeding because they believe it mirrors the unpredictability of Mavericks itself in that "you never know what you're going to get." Below are the official random heat draws presented in the order they were chosen by the surfers themselves for the 2009 Contest:
Heat One: Peter Mel, Brock Little, Tyler Smith, Darryl Virostko, Jamie Sterling, Matt Ambrose
Heat Two: Greg Long, Nathan Fletcher, Kenny Collins, Josh Loya, Dave Wassel, Tim West
Heat Three: Anthony Tashnick, Shawn Rhodes, Ion Banner, Ryan Seelbach, Shane Desmond, Evan Slater
Heat Four: Alex Martins, Chris Bertish, Grant Baker, Zach Wormhoudt, Carlos Burle, Grant Washburn