Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mavericks 2009 Season is Closed

Mavericks, one of the most dangerous big-wave surf contests in the world, has just announced the closure of its 2009 season without a surfer riding a board, but have intimated that with the right sponsorship money will open next season in November instead of January.

The biggest ever prize of $150,000 remains in place.

The big-wave contest opened on January 1 and ran through to the last day of March, during which time 24 of the world's top big-wave surfers, who were specially invited to compete, waited for the Pacific Ocean to produce 50 ft swells.

They remained on 24-hour alert - as did thousands of fans - throughout that time, but this year has seen a lack of Alaskan storms to create the Mavericks wave.

Contest organizers had held over the official closure in the hope of extending the contest but have made the decision based on the needs of wildlife conservation at Half Moon Bay. Mavericks, they say, is sited in 'the heart of one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet,' and April is a particularly sensitive time for breeding and migration.

Far from being despondent, however, they are optimistic about next season, especially with the hope of promoting the contest in September ready to open in November instead of January.

'Showcasing 24 of the world’s finest big-wave surfers, the largest prize purse in the history of big-wave surfing, and four former Contest Champions, The Mavericks Surf Contest® will return again next season to the epic Half Moon Bay break,' they said in their press release, but have crucially included at the end of it:

'If we had the support to open the window in November, we’d be virtually guaranteed a Contest every season. This past November, for example, delivered some of the most memorable surf in a decade. If our sponsor partners continue to step up, imagine what we could do with Contest conditions like that next season. It would be truly epic,' said Contest Director and Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark.

This year's benefactors are Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision who personally funded half of the largest ever $150,000 prize purse, and Barracuda Networks doubled it.

Moose Guen commented, 'We appreciate that nature has its nuances and the conditions were not right this year. Jane and I are committed to supporting Mavericks, the competition, and most importantly the surfers. We also are appreciative of Barrucuda Networks’ support, so that the unique nature of the prize purse is in place for next season when we all look forward to the best swells ever.

Michael Perone, CMO and executive vice president of Barracuda Networks said, 'We respect and support the decision to conclude the waiting period for the 2009 Mavericks Contest. We remain committed to our sponsorship to Mavericks and we look forward to working with them to help build excitement leading up to what we hope will be a thrilling contest in 2010.'

Sony Ericsson were presenting the contest and the AT & T Park, home of the Giants baseball team, were to host the contest via a live satellite feed on their big screens. Last year over 1,000 fans watched from the ballpark.

Jeff Clark, took the decision to close after consulting with competitors, environmental and public safety agencies, surf forecasters and sponsor partners, said Keir Beadling.

'I want to personally thank our army of more than five-hundred special human beings and seventy-five committed organizations for their efforts in getting ready and staying on alert for Mother Nature this season. It’s a tremendous undertaking unlike anything else, and we’re very lucky to have such a passionate support crew,' he said.

Contest organizers particularly consulted with the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS), an agency that protects the wildlife and the habitats of the part of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary where the contest takes place.

'Extending the waiting period beyond March this season would pose a unique set of challenges on this front,' said Mavericks in their press release.

GFNMS Superintendent Maria Brown is quoted as saying, 'The sanctuary had already extended the exemption for the contest period through March. But the presence of listed and vulnerable species, newly-born harbor seal pups, migrating whales, and nesting birds make April a particularly sensitive time for wildlife in the Sanctuary.

'Any wildlife disturbance by boats, people on foot, and aircraft can result in mortality. Wildlife conservation is a concern throughout the entire year, but especially serious consequences can result if vulnerable species are not able to breed successfully at critical times during the year, including right now.'

Keir Beadling added, 'We will continue to honor the concerns of GFNMS. Respect for the environment has been a core part of Mavericks’ DNA since day one. And we will not overlook this commitment; it’s simply too important.'

The Mavericks wave is half a mile off shore.

'Every winter season, Mother Nature offers up the ocean’s harshest conditions and the giant, unpredictable waves that characterize the Mavericks break and the annual Mavericks Surf Contest®,' say Mavericks organizers, describing it as having 'frigid waters, dangerous currents, jagged rocks and the ever-present threat of the great white shark.'

These 'contestable conditions did not develop during the waiting period, and the giant appears to be entering its annual slumber until next season,' they said.

'screen grabs' from show Jeff Clark, surfers and supporters at the Opening Ceremony on January 12

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