Mark Healy goes crazy on a Mavericks left. Photo: Ryan Craig. Transworld Surf
Story by August Howell, Half Moon Bay Surf Club team
The 2012/2013 Mavericks Invitational was a contest to remember. It was definitely not the biggest surf ever, but with Peter Mel winning it after many years riding Mavericks, it will be one for the ages.
After three years of political turmoil and few takers for sponsorship of the event, GoPro stepped up and did an amazing job. The 11 time world champion Kelly Slater was unable to compete in the event, because of a conflict with the Association of Surfing Professionals. The Mavericks Invitational is not an ASP sponsored event, and Kelly would have been fined possibly thousands of dollars for competing. Go figure. Big wave legend Shane Dorian was also out of the contest because of a shoulder injury sustained while surfing in Nazare, Portugal, the site of the biggest wave ever surfed. Carlos Burle was also out due to injury. Taking their places were the top three alternates Josh Loya, Tyler Fox, and Colin Dwyer.
The weather was ideal for the contest, hardly a cloud in the sky and extremely warm. New for this year, the beach area and the cliffs looking out to Mavericks were closed to the public due to safety concerns about the eroding cliffs and rouge waves coming up to the beach. Instead, there was a massive festival outside the Oceano Hotel, where everybody could walk around and enjoy all the food, games and entertainment that Half Moon Bay could offer, including a large screen with a live feed of the contest. It was very removed from the original Mavericks spectator site, and as Mr. Harden (Sacred Heart Prep religious studies teacher), who was at the festival, put it, "It feels like I could be anywhere, not even at the site of the competition...I feel like that I definitely prefer being able to watch the event in person without the crutch of a television. But it's really fun to see the spirit of the event."
However, closed beaches were not a problem for me. I simply showed my press pass to the police who had closed off the entrance to the beach. I walked along the deserted beach and lonely cliffs. The only other people there were press photographers. I saw a large pile of dirt crumble away from the cliff. Definitely not safe.
As Mavericks waves go, the surf was pretty small, the biggest reaching about twenty-five feet on the faces. According to Darryl "Flea" Virostko, one of the original pioneers at Mavericks, and winner of the first three Mavericks contests "The conditions were slow, but there were still some big waves, just long waits. There were really good rides today, but we know what Mavericks can do, so its hard to see it like this for a contest, but we're happy with what happened. Mel won and that's sick."
Sacred Heart Prep students Nick Oliver '16 and Nick Becker '16 were able to get onto a boat and watch part of the contest from the sideline. "We left the house at 6am and got there around 7." said Becker. "We got to see the first two heats. It was probably like 20-30ft. The weather was really nice. We were expecting it to be really cold but it was really sunny." Nick Oliver said, "We stayed out there for about two and a half hours...We were there at high tide, so it wasn't the biggest time of the day. It's was big, but for Mavericks it wasn't super big, but it was still pretty big."
Ken "Skindog" Collins (left) and Rusty Long (right); classic Mavericks take off. Photo: Ryan Craig. Transworld Surf
Derek Dunfee, a big wave rider, photographer, surf journalist, and an alternate for the contest said "The conditions were perfect. It was about as clean and beautiful and sunny and nice as Mavericks can get. The waves weren't huge but there were enough really good waves to keep the contest fun and exciting." GoPro did an amazing job of sponsoring the event, and got some fantastic shots of Mark Healy, Ben Wilkinson and Peter Mel. "Its cool how they linked up with the big wave surfers and used all the different angels." said Dunfee. Indeed, Anthony Tashnick put his GoPro facing backwards on his helmet to how people what a Mavericks peak will do to you if you get hit.
Peter Mel (red) on a signature steep drop. Photo: Frank Quirarte. Surfing Magazine
At last, the event came down to the final heat, which provided some of the best and biggest waves of the event. The final 6 surfers were all superstars, some of them as well known as celebrities, while others were lesser known underground chargers:
Peter Mel, a long time stand out at Mavericks; Zach Wormhoudlt, a very active big wave surfer from Santa Cruz; Greg Long, a big wave superstar from San Clemente; Alex Martins, a Brazilian who lives at Ocean Beach and respected local at Mavericks; Mark Healy, overall madman/waterman who surfs the formidable Mavericks left with a unique skill; Shawn Dollar, who has paddled into one of the biggest waves ever ridden at Mavericks.
It wasn't announced until the award ceremony, that Peter Mel was the winner of the 2012/13 Mavericks Invitational. Mel told the cheering crowd that all the finalists would split the prize purse of $50,000 dollars between them, showing true camaraderie and brotherhood. To watch more of this memorable event, go to surfermag.com
The finalists celebrate Peter Mel announcing the prize money will be split. Photo: Jenna Merrilees