The much anticipated Mavericks Big Wave Invitational went down yesterday (Sun, 20 January) in a swell that never quite reached the level of expectation that was placed upon it. There were long lulls, but when the sets came there were still waves that would scare the living daylights out of the majority of online viewers who were dishing out ‘lame’ calls. There were some crazy waves ridden throughout, and at the end of the day Pete Mel emerged the victor and Zag scribe Clayton Truscott was on the scene to give the report from ground zero.
Mavericks Building Blocks – by Clayton Truscott
At five thirty this morning steady traffic was already coming into Half Moon Bay from Santa Cruz and San Francisco. By eight o’ clock there were cars stacked for nearly ten kays in both directions, and the festival site around the Oceano Hotel & Spa was swarming. The crowd was thick and diverse; there were groms on skateboards, neck-bearded hipsters, big families, small families, teenage girls, weirdos and hokey tourists wearing moon-bags and crocs. It’s amazing to think that all these people dropped everything to come here with less than a week’s notice, during a long-weekend, to watch a surfing event.
In the pitch-dark harbour at 6:00am, every working charter boat in the Princeton Harbour was full of journalists, photographers and spectators, eagerly awaiting clearance to get out there and watch some carnage. The memory of 2010’s monumental conditions at Mavericks is still fresh in the minds of everyone who saw it, and it’s probably those grand expectations that contributed to any disappointment at today’s waves. The long period swell made for long period lulls, and the swell wasn’t as big as the charts initially indicated. But just like watching the J-Bay Billabong Pro when it’s four feet and fickle, it’s still amazing to see the world’s best do their thing.
But any comparison you can make between the Big Wave World Tour and the ASP World Tour is thrown out the window by one crucial difference: they are two very different sports. It might not have been as big out there as people hoped, but it was still freaking massive by normal human standards, and Mavericks is a damn scary wave that will break people in half. Every time a set feathered on the horizon and someone turned to go, the whole channel went nuts; the hooting and screeching sounded more like the chimp’s cage at a zoo than a fleet of sports enthusiasts. Mark Healey’s left in the opening heat almost made someone’s head blow up from excitement.
The whole day seemed to be one continual process of waiting and wailing. A long break in the action would have spectators getting fidgety, and then boom: suddenly people were diving over one another to get into position for photos or view points. And every time Mother Nature dished out one of her vicious nugs, someone was on it. The comfort and commitment that the competitors display is mental. Peter Mel, Shaun Dollar and Greg Long were the standouts of the day, alongside Healey.
The live webcast posed a few issues for people wanting to watch online, but for people there it was a jol. The organisation was outstanding, especially when you think of the tight time frames involved in an event like this. The Mavericks International Festival included a beer garden, food, live music and a massive screen with Go Pro footage from each heat. By the time the final started, there was pretty much standing room only.
Patience and big wave surfing go hand in hand. Issues like the webcast are easy to fix. What’s clear and more important is establishing an interest from the general public, and today really showed off how much people want to see the world’s bravest surfers take on the world’s biggest waves in a competition format – especially if they are going to split the prize money and show a new level of sportsmanship.
I thought Peter Mel’s closing words of his winning speech were fitting and true of things to come for the Big Wave World Tour. “Wow. there’s a lot of people here… Who else can we thank? You guys. I know it was a challenge to watch this event and hopefully the broadcast was good for you guys. I know it’s just going to get better. This is the building blocks. This is going to be one of the best big wave events on the planet.”
Results for the 2012 Mavericks Invitational:
1st – Peter Mel
2nd – Zach Wormhoudt
3rd – Greg Long
4th – Alex Martins
5th – Mark Healey
6th – Shawn Dollar
Both Twiggy and Chris Bertish made the semi-finals, but were unable to advance to the finals.