Monday, November 2, 2009

Dreams of Mavericks Surf Contestants 2009/2010

The Mavericks Surf Contest, a battle of the titans of big-wave surfing, is not just about heroes, its about those who dream of one day conquering the mighty waves with equal dare-devilling skill.

Like 19-year-old Colin Dwyer of Pacifica, who stands in the shadows on the Alternates list for the second year in a row. Described as 'one of the newest hard-chargers!' at the opening ceremony of the 2009/2010 season - see previous blogs - he knows his chances of competing are slim.

Colin - pictured with Mavericks 'Test Pilot' Grant Washburn - is honoured to be on the list and ranks 15th out of 15. With the contest dominated by so many of the mighty, Colin would like to see an age break with waves of opportunity for younger surfers.

Change is blowing through the organization, so he is hopeful.

Would that mean veteran surfers stepping off their boards to allow younger ones in, or new categories? Colin doesn't know. He just hopes that one day his feet will be on his board on the water and not on the beach.

'In a new age of democracy, hopefully sooner rather than later,' he said.

Colin's success would also mean family succession: his father, Steve, is a veteran surfer of Mavericks the place, who twice rose into the ranks of the contest. He would have competed more, says Colin proudly, only the contest was then not held for a few years.

Dreams of competing inspire the other Alternates, like Hawaiian Kealii Mamala - right - who has been surfing the North Shore of Oahu.

'I've been, you know, trying to put my time in as much as I can. It's always been a dream for me to get into this contest sometime...whenever it will happen,' he said.

Perhaps two of the most rueful Alternates are Brazilians Alex Martins, now living in San Francisco, and Danilo Couto, who top the list. They made it onto the competitors' roll call last year when injuries plagued Ben Andrews and Nathan Fletcher - who are now back on form. Dreams of displaying their skills were shattered by a perverse Pacific Ocean that flat-lined during the season window of January 1 to March 31.

Alex - left - is doubly pleased to have the contest running for another year and to see the extended opening of the season - from 1 November - 'because we missed the best swell of the year!' he said. As last season rolled pitifully to an end, the surfers could only stand and reflect on some of the best Mavericks days that had fallen over Thanksgiving.

As for living in San Francisco, Alex said, 'I love it, I kinda got used to the weather, it's different from Brazil!' The Pacific Coast is not a surf scene, the water is brutally cold, it doesn't have perfect point breaks, and that makes it a 'very unique' place, he said.

His replacement, Ben Andrews, had injured an ACL ligament in his knee. 'It's been a long haul trying to get back in shape,' said Ben - pictured with legendary surfer Dorian 'Doc' Paskowitz. He started surfing again in June.

How does he feel now?

'I'm stoked! I feel better than ever!' he said.

Other competitors, who don't have to dream of being in the contest but are looking forward to the challenge are Kenny 'Skindog' Collins, pictured holding two-year-old son, Koa, with 'Doc', and Darryl 'Flea' Virostko - below.

'I'm ready this season to go again. It's been a while since I've been in the winners' corale!' said 'Flea.'

The only Mavericks' hat-trick winner - in the first three contests in '99, '00 and '04 - he has been shaping up in Santa Cruz.

What lies behind his surfing image of 'the crazy man!'

It's raw courage. There isn't a wave he won't launch into, he said. 'I don't limit myself when it comes to surfing.'

pics by Chris Flowers

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