Friday, June 26, 2009

Mavericks Pioneer Jeff Clark 'Ousted' from Mavericks Organization

Legendary Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark, who discovered the Mavericks wave 34 years ago, is denying that he resigned this week from the organization that now runs the world-famous big-wave surfing contest, but says instead that he has been ousted in a boardroom coup.

Within hours of the announcement of the first-ever opening of the Mavericks season on November 1, - see previous blog - Jeff, who established the competition and was Contest Director, is writing on

'Over the past several years, it has been obvious that my vision and priorities are not in

line with those of Mavericks Surf Adventures.

I have had in the past, and continue to have, strong differences of opinion with the present CEO - Keir J Beadling - and Board about the direction, image and priorities of the company and the contest.

'The press release issued by Mavericks Surf Ventures this week stating that I ‘stepped down’ and I am ‘passing the torch to the next generation’ is wrong. The reality is that I was ousted as Contest Director by the current CEO.'

It seems that money is at the heart of the argument. Just as the Mavericks team have received enough sponsorship money to open the contest window from November 1 to March 31, instead of having to wait until January 1, Jeff accuses the company of a possible compromise on the calling of the contest.

'The one thing I would truly regret would be to see a committee deciding, based on sponsorship money and media opportunities, when the best day to run the contest would be, and have it turn into just another 10 foot swell with a lot of hype and not a lot of substance. Any true Mavericks surfer wants and deserves a real test of ability.'

He also contests the press release sent out by Mavericks Surf Ventures, stating that this year's contest will celebrate the 35th anniversary of his pioneer surfing of the wave. The 35th anniversary 'is actually next season, in 2010-11. I will not allow the company to use my accomplishment as a marketing tactic,' he says.

'Effective today, I have resigned from the Board of Directors of Mavericks Surf Ventures.

'My vision for the Mavericks Surf Contest has been unwavering: it is about the family of big wave surfers, the spirit of the ocean, and this amazing wave. I never wanted that to be compromised for the sake of money or marketing opportunities. I think that focus is obvious to anyone who knows me or who has seen my priorities over the years.'

Jeff grew up just north of Half Moon Bay and as a 17-year-old was the first person ever to surf Mavericks in 1975. He continued to surf there alone for 15 years, until the surfing world finally realized the Mavericks wave was no myth.

'Mavericks has been an integral part of my personal and professional life for more than 30 years, and I hope that it continues to be a part of both in the future.

'I wake up looking at Mavericks, and I have watched and surfed those waves most of my life. I started the contest 10 years ago, and I can say one thing for sure: Mavericks is Mavericks. The waves will come – or not – when they will.

'I wish everyone well, knowing that Mavericks will always take care of itself.'

But the reports a statement from Keir Beadling that says that he and assistant contest director Catherine Clark, Jeff's former wife, have 'spoken with most, if not all, of the 24 invited surfers surfers from last year's canceled event' and are confident that the surfers are 'interested in the contest's "next phase" and playing their own role in it.

'I'm sure it's a complicated thing (for some of the surfers), but ultimately these guys want to see a successful event,' Beadling is reported as saying. 'There's been a long-term sense of tyranny that we're now out from under.'

pics - screen grabs from - show: Jeff being interviewed at the Opening Ceremony in January of the unsuccessful 2009 season; and presenting at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards in Anaheim in April

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