[IMAGE 1]The Quiksilver “Men Who Ride Mountains” big-wave surf contest returns for its fourth season in the winter of 2001-2002. Some of the best big-wave surfers in the world, including six-time world champion Kelly Slater, two-time Mavericks champion Flea Virostko and longtime master of the feared Half Moon Bay break, Peter Mel, will be on call for a season-long waiting period from December 8 through March 31.
Surfing is like no other sport because it has no calendar. The vagaries of tide, wind and swell make it difficult to predict with 100 percent accuracy until the sun rises on a given morning. As such, the contest was not held last year. Officials hold this event to the highest standard, refusing to settle for less, and the combination of timing, logistics and a quirky winter left them without the exact day they wanted. “Everyone was pretty bummed, but we got almost totally skunked from mid-January to the end of March, and nobody could have expected that,” said contest director Jeff Clark. “Everybody’s looking for great things this year.”
The inaugural event, held in February of ’99, was bogged down by a lingering fogbank and significant tide changes. Two years ago, some extremely challenging conditions turned it into one of the greatest big-wave contests ever held. People are still talking about the epic semifinal heat that sent Slater into the finals and found all of the competitors enjoying career moments in 20 to 25 foot surf.
“That year was as big as you could ever want it for a contest,” said Clark. “It was just a full-on assault in some of the biggest, most dangerous waves in the world, and it really changed the playing field. The guys who weren’t ready and hadn’t surfed it much, they didn’t do well at all. The guys who had been going on windy days, bumpy days, every day that it broke, those were the guys who persevered.
“Mavericks is the kind of place that breaks so often, you can’t help but get your hopes up,” said Clark. “The community is behind us, and Quiksilver has shown tremendous sensitivity towards the area, the environment and the local surfers’ fears.”
In a format similar to The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau contest in Hawaii, each of the 21 entrants will compete twice in seven-man heats. Once those six heats are completed, running totals will be compiled and the top placings will be announced. The one-day event has a total purse of $75,000 and a first prize of $30,000.
The 2002 Competitors:
Shawn “Barney” Barron
Kenny “Skindog” Collins
Darryl “Flea” Virostko
Everaldo “Pato” Teixera
Rick “Frosty” Hesson