Wed, 30 October 2019

One of the world’s best big wave spots is marred with controversy, and it just won’t go away. It has left a bad taste in the mouthes of many, and Craig Jarvis tells us why.

We covered the day when the Dungeons contest was called off but what happened at home was nothing compared to what has been going on at Mavericks. Here’s a quick recap of what has been happening at this great - if not the best - big wave surf spot. By the way, it was named after a dog.

Right now, the contest is off. After fighting to get the licence (more of that later) the WSL has pulled the pin on the event although they hold the licence. It is one of the hardest licences to get, and when they finally got it, they canceled the event.

Before that, we had a couple of reasons why South Africa is an integral part of this event. Grant Baker won the event in 2006 and then again in 2014, making him the biggest legend in big wave surfing from South Africa. His wins led to world titles and big wave awards and more.


CLEANUP: The sheer majesty of the wave. Not a lot of that on land. Photo WSL / Bala

Then Chris Bertish won the event in 2010, following in the footsteps of Baker. Twiggy’s 2014 victory resounded around the world and vindicated the effectiveness of the Red Bull Big Wave Africa events running in Cape Town at the time. But the Mavericks contest has always been conflicted.

Jeff Clark was the man behind the event, as well as the break itself, and helped secure sponsorships and permits in the past. The Mavericks and Clark were always mentioned in the same breath. After Clark, Cartel Management took over the event, but they also messed it up, filing for bankruptcy in 2015. This gave the WSL the opportunity to grab the permits, which they did.

Behind that however, existing sponsor Body Glove were subsequently mismanaged by Cartel, dropping them from all media even though they had a three-year contract, resulting in the wetsuit company suing Cartel management.


WATCH AND WAIT: The lull has not exactly reduced the crowds at Mavericks. Photo WSL / Turner

On top of this, Red Bull Media House had signed a long-term agreement with Cartel, and as a result of their bankruptcy, also had to sue.

The Cartel Management was ruled, some say with an iron fist, by Jeff Clark, Ian Banner, Shaun Rhodes, Matt Ambrose and Darryl Flea Virotsko, and they were the guys who all banned their friend Twiggy Baker from the event in 2015.

Twig was trying to get WSL commentator and 2013 Mavericks winner Peter Mel into the event. He was disallowed to surf in the event by Cartel Management and their somewhat pompous named Committee 5. This was as a result of his working for the WSL, and Twiggy thought it grossly unfair.

As a result of Twiggy’s agitation, Committee 5 decided that he was out the game, and that the world champ and previous winner Twig needed to sit out a year to ponder his indiscretions. Some called it jealousy, while others called it a crock of shit.


DUCKDIVE DELUXE: What is the real reason behind the collapse of the event? Photo WSL / Bara

Now that the past is the past and the WSL has the licence, what happened to the event? Some blame the cancellation on the forced inclusion of the women in the event, resulting in not enough time in a day to run such an event. The women pushed so hard, on pay parity and insistence of 12 surfers that it all became too hard, and the pin was pulled.

Others say that it was just WSL bungling. Others say that it was just WSL bungling. Sabrina Brennan, president of the San Mateo County Harbor District Board of Commissioners, said on www.mercurynews.com that the problems that led to the Mavericks’ cancellation this year were of the League’s own making, because organizers failed to get other permits they needed for the event: “They have been so late and disorganized with getting their permits in order, they have missed every opportunity to hold a competition,” Brennan said. “Women have been waiting on the sidelines this whole time to surf Mavericks — and now the WSL is cutting it.”

So Mavericks has not run for four years, which is a shame. The WSL holds the permits until 2021, so it might be another three years before we see any competition take place at arguably the best big wave spot in the world.

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