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Mavericks big-wave contest sets 2009 competition window, awaits mammoth swell

December 22, 2008 |  9:16 am

Alex Martins (right) and Nathan Fletcher drop into a steep Mavericks wave late last month.

After a lengthy period of doubt among surfers and organizers because of a gloomy economic climate, the Mavericks Surf Contest will in fact be held this winter -- if Mother Nature delivers a large enough swell.

Organizers were, through a variety of sources, able to obtain funding for one of the world's premier big-wave surfing competitions, held at the notorious reef break beyond Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, Calif. They've announced Jan.  1-March 31 as the official competition window.

"We are all stoked to be back for another year," said Jeff Clark, contest director. "No matter what else is going on in the world, Mavericks will be there.  The season looks promising, as we've already seen some major swells roll through Half Moon Bay. The perfect contest day we're looking for will bring a northwest groundswell between 18 and 20 feet."

That translates into wave faces of 30-40 feet. The contest will boast a $75,000 purse, personally funded by Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of the private equity firm MVision. First place will be worth $30,000.

Invited athletes: Matt Ambrose, Ben Andrews, Grant Baker, Ion Banner, Chris Bertish, Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins, Shane Desmond, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little, Greg Long, Josh Loya, Peter Mel, Shawn Rhodes, Ryan Seelbach, Evan Slater, Tyler Smith, Jamie Sterling, Anthony Tashnick, Darryl Virostko, Grant Washburn, Dave Wassell, Tim West, Zach Wormhoudt.

The contest will be shown via webcast on the official website -- and once again on the giant screen at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

San Clemente's Greg Long is the defending champion.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Alex Martins (right) and Nathan Fletcher drop into a steep Mavericks wave late last month. Credit: Frank Quirarte / Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards