Mavericks Surf Contest opens competition window early, awaits winter swells
The waiting period for the Mavericks Surf Contest began Friday. The opening of the competition window came a month earlier than last year, when organizers missed out on an epic Thanksgiving weekend swell and the contest because of an otherwise flat winter.
They're hoping an El Niño-supercharged 2009-10 winter will provide the necessary 30- to 40-foot bombs and make choosing a contest day simple this time around.Friday's opening ceremony was attended by legendary surfing pioneer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, 90, who told the competitors how proud he was of their contributions to the sport of big-wave surfing. “As long as you surf, surfing will keep you,” said Paskowitz, who was accompanied by his son Abraham and grandson Levi.
Veteran Mavericks surfer Peter Mel and past contest champions Greg Long, Darryl “Flea” Virostko and Anthony Tashnick talked about the what the notorious break near Half Moon Bay means to them. San Clemente's Long won the last event in 2008.
Competitors this season will vie for $150,000 in prize money, with $50,000 going to the winner. The event will air live via webcast, and a special giant-screen webcast will again be held at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
Here's the heat lineup (the top three in each heat advance to six-man semifinals, and the top three from each semifinal will compete in a six-man final). May the best man win and may there be no multiple-wave hold-downs, injuries, deaths or visits by hungry great white sharks:
--Heat One: Evan Slater, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Ion Banner, Dave Wassell, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Tyler Smith
--Heat Two: Peter Mel, Shane Desmond, Zach Wormhoudt, Nathan Fletcher, Matt Ambrose, Anthony Tashnick
--Heat Three: Brock Little, Tim West Jr., Kenny “Skindog” Collins, Josh Loya, Greg Long, Carlos Burle
--Heat Four: Chris Bertish, Grant Washburn, Ryan Seelbach, Ben Andrews, Shawn Rhodes, Jamie Sterling
Photo: It was rides such as this that helped Darryl "Flea" Virostko win the first surf contest held at Mavericks off Half Moon Bay in 1999. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times
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