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Mon, 22 January 2018

Despite dik waves last week, the Mavericks Challenge (saved from obscurity by the WSL last year) remains on hold, writes Spike who looks at how the event survived to run another day.


As the foam fades from another big winter swell at the famous break outside Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay in California, it's interesting to note that the World Surf League now owns the Mavericks Invitiatonal after saving it from extinction last year. The WSL scooped up the contest for $525,000 (about R6.3 million) after a bankruptcy court judge's approval in Los Angeles at the end of 2017.

It all went pears after that 2014 deal was struckThe deal came on the back of a dustup involving the event's majority owners Cartel Management and a slew of sponsors, locals and others that lead to Cartel, and the Titans of Mavericks, filing for bankruptcy in January 2017. There were problems with finance, and an ongoing lawsuit by Red Bull Media House, who did the live stream in the 2016 event, for breach of contract.

Cartel had teamed up with Mavs pioneer Jeff Clark and his Mavericks Invitational Inc - the original permit holders of the event - but it all went pears after that 2014 deal was struck. For a start it took until 2016 for the event to run, to date the only iteration as Titans of Mavericks. There was also some bad PR that lead to many surfers growing impatient with all the spats and hissy fits.

Acrimony came early after the decision to controversially exclude past champions Peter Mel (2013) and Grant Twiggy Baker (2014) in 2015. Mel was canned because of an alleged conflict of interest - he was commissioner of the WSL’s Big Wave World Tour. Twiggy's came from distributing a petition to have Mel reinstated.

Anyway, North Pacific storms have been booming, with giant surf hitting Mavs last Monday and Tuesday, and an XXL day on Thursday that they're calling 50foot. After initially putting the event on Yellow Alert the week before, Big Wave Tour Commissioner Mike Parsons called it off because onshore winds were forecast. Organisers still have the rest of January and all of February so there's no rush.

The decision did not deter some intrepid surfers from tackling some big surf last week, with lots of wipeouts and hardware carnage, including a swamped boat that made the news. See video clips below.

This year will be the first time that women have been included. The event window runs until February 28.

According to the WSL, spectators are prohibited "from observing the break from the nearby beaches or the overlooking bluff, which is occupied by the US Air Force tracking station. In past years there have been serious accidents with widely reported injuries caused by high waves sweeping through previously dry areas and from rock falls from the crumbling cliff, and these public safety concerns remain ongoing."

Wipeout at Mavericks 15 January

Drone footage - note how few waves are being caught (devil wind)

Men saved after wave swamps boat

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