Economy Woes: Future Of Mavericks Contest Uncertain

Last year’s runner-up Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker. Photo: English

As reported by Mark Conely for The Mercury News

Rumors that the popular Mavericks Surf Contest could be wiped out by the economic downturn are still premature. But event organizers won’t deny the difficulty locking in sponsors — and haven’t completely ruled out scratching the event this year.

“We’re a business just like anyone else,” said Keir Beadling, CEO of Mavericks Surf Ventures. “And we’re very mindful of the effects of the economy. … Until we have key agreements in hand, we’re being super careful.”

The 5-year-old contest staged near Half Moon Bay last year was sponsored by the likes of, Clif Bar, Hard Rock and various others ranging from a wetsuit maker to a technology company to a law firm. It doled out a total of $75,000 in prize money to its 24 invited big-wave surfers.

But Beadling said the daily spasms in the financial markets are making it difficult to wrap up crucial details. Those range from sponsorship deals that cover event costs such as permits, security and the prize purse, to the contest’s live Webcast, which organizers estimate drew a million-plus viewers last year.

A year ago at this time, the window to find the perfect day of glassy, 30- to 40-foot waves off Pillar Point Harbor had already opened. But that was an early opening — three weeks advance of usual — after the contest window had passed without the perfect day materializing in 2006-07.

Beadling does not sound like a beaten man.

He says the contest that has drawn tens of thousands to the San Mateo coast four of the past five years is more important than ever.”It may sound corny, but I think the world really needs Mavericks,” he said. “People need to be inspired.”

As for the surfers, they don’t need extra monetary inspiration to paddle into Mavericks monsters. Last weekend saw 40-foot-plus conditions being charged ever harder by some of the world’s most accomplished big-wave riders — just for fun. Some hopped planes from as far away as South Africa and Hawaii, simply to be part of the adrenaline-soaked festivities.

“The thing is, the guys are surfing it anyway,” longtime Mavericks contestant Grant Washburn told the San Mateo Times recently. “The contest is secondary.”

For the full article head to