VIA – SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
Alex Martins, Greg Long and Peter Mel of Santa Cruz scramble to catch the same… ( Dan Coyro )
The waves breaking at Maverick’s on Tuesday were big enough to deliver a beating to some of the best big wave surfers in the world. If forecasters’ predictions are correct — and surfers’ prayers are answered — they’ll be even more ferocious Friday, the day organizers are eyeing to hold the 2013-14 Body Glove Mavericks Invitational.
Organizers gave the Mavericks Invitational the yellow light Tuesday and are expected to give the contest the green light early Wednesday. That means the 24 invited surfers and alternates will have about 48 hours to get to Princeton by the Sea in time to compete for the $50,000 prize purse and valuable Big Wave World Tour points Friday morning.
“It’s on on Friday,” said three-time Maverick’s champion Darryl “Flea” Virostko of Santa Cruz. “There were some really heavy waves up there today. Guys got some beatings and some pretty huge waves. The next swell is supposed to be bigger than this. If that’s true, Peter Mel told me there’s going to be some massive (waves).”
Mel, a Santa Cruz native and the defending champion, would know. He has competed in every Maverick’s contest since they began in 1999. Virostko also knows a thing or two about the break. Now retired, he serves on the committee that helps Maverick’s pioneer Jeff Clark make the call to hold the contest.
Perhaps the person who knows the break most technically, however, is official contest wave forecaster Mark Sponsler of Stormsurf.com. Sponsler said he expects the surf to be in the 18- to 20-foot range, Hawaiian, which translates to 35- to 40-foot faces.
“It is supposed to be bigger than today and the thought is that it will stay cleaner longer,” Sponsler said.
He added that the waves should also be plentiful thanks to a consistent medium tide that will allow for sets every 15 minutes with about 10 waves per set.
Peter Mel of Santa Cruz, veteran of each of the Mavericks big wave contests since 1999, charged his way to victory last year in a final heat that included two other Santa Cruz locals–Zach Wormhoudt and Shawn Dollar. (Dan Coyro/Sentinel file) ( Dan Coyro )
Bigger waves could be a blessing or a curse. Virostko said invitee Alex Martins of Brazil made a trip to a hospital after taking a nasty spill while surfing Maverick’s on Tuesday, when waves reached 20-foot-plus. Several other competitors — including Hawaii’s Kohl Christensen, South Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker and San Clemente’s Rusty Long — “all got hammered today,” according to BWWT media liaison Rusty Gibson of Santa Cruz.
“Everyone who knows anything about it is saying Friday, and there’ll be no shortage of size,” said Santa Cruz invitee Zach Wormhoudt. “I don’t know anything that could possibly change that. Everyone agrees it’s going to be… interesting.”
Sponsler said the only factor that could throw a kink into the contest is the wind. Organizers of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau at Hawaii’s Waimea Bay abandoned running that contest this week because of strong winds.
“We don’t want to call it too early, then have the winds change and turn it into a stormy mess,” Sponsler said. “Trying to forecast the wind even in the best conditions can be finicky.”
Gibson said fog is also a factor. The contest could start as late as 9 a.m. in order to avoid the cloud banks that have been sitting over Maverick’s in the mornings.
Fog or not, spectators shouldn’t expect to glimpse the waves in person unless they’re willing to pay for a spot on a boat. Fans will again be barred from the beach and the cliffs overlooking Maverick’s and will instead be asked to watch the action on the big screens at the Mavericks Festival, held in the parking lot of the Oceano Hotel and Spa, or at the bars and restaurants around the Pillar Point Harbor, which will carry live feeds of the action. Tickets to the festival are $15 in advance and $20 on contest day at www.mavericksinvitational.com.
The contest — one of five stops on the BWWT — will also be webcast live at www.mavericksinvitational.com and redbulltv.com. For the first time in contest history, the final will be aired live on TV on Universal Sports, a channel that is not available in the Santa Cruz area.
Follow Sports Editor Julie Jag on Twitter and Tout @julie_jag.
IF YOU GO
Body Glove Mavericks Invitational
What: Big wave surf contest and one of five stops on the Big Wave World Tour
Where: Maverick’s, a reef break near Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point Harbor
When: Green light expected to be given for Friday
Who: 24 invited surfers, who are given 24 hours notice to get to the break
On the net: www.mavericksinvitational.com for info and live webcast
Jamie Sterling, Hawaii
Anthony Tashnick Santa Cruz
Mark Healey, Hawaii
Ken ‘Skindog’ Collins, Santa Cruz
Ryan Augenstein, Santa Cruz
Chris Bertish, South Africa
Colin Dwyer, Pacifica
Grant Washburn, San Francisco
Dave Wassel, Hawaii
Tyler Fox, Santa Cruz
Ryan Seelbach, San Francisco
Peter Mel, Santa Cruz
Zach Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz
Nic Lamb,Santa Cruz
Ben Wilkinson, Australia
Shane Dorian, Hawaii
Greg Long, San Clemente
Carlos Burle, Brazil
Rusty Long, San Clemente
Nathan Fletcher, San Clemente
Shawn Dollar, Santa Cruz
Kohl Christensen, Hawaii
Alex Martins, Brazil
Grant Baker, South Africa
1. Shane Desmond, Santa Cruz
2. Danilo Couto, Brazil
3. Derek Dunfee, San Diego
4. Kelly Slater, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
5. Tyler Smith, Santa Cruz
6. Frank Solomon, South Africa
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