Mavericks Surf Contest Saved By New Sponsors

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The Maverick’s surfing contest has been revived. After a troubling autumn in which sponsorship became an issue, contest organizers have set a waiting period of Jan. 1 through March 31 for the event pitting the world’s best big-wave riders against the giant surf off Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay.
Mavericks Big Wave Surf Contest

Mavericks in full effect. Photo: Jack English
Because of the struggling economy, and the fact that an exact date cannot be promised, Maverick’s Surf Ventures Inc., needed more time than usual to summon sponsorship. Sources indicated that details are forthcoming, but the primary sponsors are said to be Jim Beam bourbon and benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision Equity Partners.

“We’re all stoked that the sponsors stepped up and we’re back for another year,” said contest director Jeff Clark, the Half Moon Bay surfer who pioneered Maverick’s in the mid-1970s. “When Maverick’s is on, it’s the most challenging venue in surfing.”

Once the call is made, surfers will be on 24-hours notice to arrive for the event.

The entry list includes the previous six contest winners: Darryl (Flea) Virostko, who won the first three (1999, 2000 and 2004); fellow Santa Cruz standout Anthony Tashnick (2005); South Africa’s Grant (Twiggy) Baker (2006), and last year’s champion, Greg Long, who is based in Southern California.

For a variety of reasons – notably the absence of ideal conditions – the contest has not been held every year. If the current big-wave season is any indication, the prospects are bright for 2009. The northwest swell that hit Northern California on the weekend of Nov. 29-30 produced what many surfers called the best Maverick’s surf they’d ever seen.

Dave Wassell, a Hawaii-based lifeguard who has made the invitee list for the first time, recently offered a pretty good summation of Maverick’s. “You can’t compare this place to Hawaii; it’s like nothing else,” Wassell said. “It’s got cold water, giant sharks, giant waves and giant rocks.”