Thursday, February 11, 2010

Green Light for Mavericks 2009-2010 Surf Contest is On! Called for Valentine's Weekend

And it's a Yes! The moment Mavericks big-wave surfers have been waiting for since November is sending waves of excitement around the surfing community and fans. The contest is ON for Saturday at the famed break at Half Moon Bay.

It's going to be a Valentine's Weekend of chocolates, flowers, cards - and big-wave surf!

Their tweet posted at 12.58 pm says:

Mother Nature is smiling once again on #MAVS. The 24 have voted, we are a GO for Saturday! Check for details. 21 seconds ago reply  

The first of the four first-round heats will begin at 8.00 am, with semi-finals at 11.30 am, and finals at 1.30 pm. The Awards Ceremony will take place on the beach at 3.00 pm.

Mavericks are asking fans to watch the contest via a free live webcast or at the live viewing party at the San Francisco Giants' ballpark, in order to limit the crowd impact on the small Half Moon Bay and protect coastal eco-systems.

'Both options provide a much better viewing experience than the view from the beach,' they say in their press release.

Viewing options:

Tickets for the AT&T Park can be purchased for $20 in advance, or $25 at AT&T Park or online at For fans in East Bay, there is also a live free viewing event at Miss  Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland, 

There are also boat tours piloted by seasoned local captains.

The illustrious 24 surfers include four previous champions, Greg Long, reigning champion, Darryl 'Flea' Virostko, Anthony Tashnick and Grant 'Twiggy' Baker, and also Matt Ambrose, Ben Andrews, Ion Banner, Chris Bertish, Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins, Shane Desmond, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little, Josh Loya, Peter Mel, Shawn Rhodes, Ryan Seelbach, Evan Slater, Tyler Smith, Jamie Sterling, Grant Washburn, Dave Wassell, Tim West, and Zach Wormhoudt.

This year’s record-breaking $150,000 prize purse pays out $50,000 for first, $25,000 for second, $15,000 for third, $10,000 for fourth, $8,000 for fifth and $6,000 for sixth.  In the democratic spirit of Mavericks, say the organizers, the remaining 18 competitors will each receive a $2,000 appearance fee. In addition, the prestigious Jay Moriarity Award will once again be presented to the surfer who most exemplifies Jay’s unique spirit.

If the contest had not been called, Mavericks surfers would only have had until March 31 for the Pacific Ocean and El Nino to produce a consistent day of waves that were at least 20 ft Hawaiian in height. They have been waiting since the opening of the contest season window on November 1, and hopes have been high with this being an El Nino winter.

But the perfect swell has been slow in reaching Half Moon Bay, less than an hour south of San Francisco, despite storms. The contest takes place about half-a-mile off-shore at Pillar Point.

Presenters of the event are Sony Ericsson and Barracuda Networks.

Mavericks 2009-2010 Big-Wave Surf Contest Voting Today on Valentine's Weekend contest

Mavs update just before midday:

some encouraging final #MAVS storm model data just came in, the boys're combing through that now.... 6 minutes ago reply

Fans of the annual big-wave surf competition, Mavericks, at Half Moon Bay, are holding their breath. Will it or won't it be a Valentine's Weekend surfing love fest?

The chosen 24 surfers - some of the best in the world - who will enter the contest are at this moment voting on whether to make The Call, and so have surfers and thousands of fans rushing to Half Moon Bay this weekend, or to the Giants' AT &T ballpark in San Francisco, or to turn to their TVs and computers.

The voting result will be announced at 12 pm today with a countdown in place.

Messages are being posted on the website. This tweet posted at 11.09 am today:

:) RT @PurringEngine: @Mavericks_Surf 55...54...53 about 1 minute ago reply

 And a second message: 


Stormsurf predict a swell of 20 ft Hawaiian, which is what Mavericks' organizers are looking for, to arrive on the coast on Saturday. 

Of the storm now crossing the Pacific, they say, 'The good thing on this one is that it is to be positioned fairly close to Northern CA, allowing all the energy the storm has to offer to reach the coast with minimal decay. The bad thing is that since it is so close, the resulting swell will be very raw upon arrival....Rough data suggests swell arrival in Northern CA on Saturday (2/13) at 20 ft Hawaiian from 280-285 degrees.'

Wavewatch on also predict 20 ft waves, but appear to show these arriving just after midnight on Saturday, ie in the very early hours of Sunday morning. 

Their chart shows waves on Saturday afternoon building up from 15 ft, peaking at 20 ft, and then subsiding to 15 ft just after midday on Sunday.

Everyone is holding their breath, including Mavericks CEO, Keir J Beadling, Contest Co-director, Katherine Clark, and presenters Sony Ericsson, and Barracuda Networks who are providing the biggest-ever roll-over prize purse of $150,000.

Greg Long of San Clemente, California, is the reigning champion from when the contest was last called in 2008.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest - 3

Thousands of San Francisco Giants fans filled the AT &T ballpark today for the 17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest - see previous blogs

One of the treats of the free event was to wander into areas normally reserved for the players and media. Like the players' clubhouse.

A long queue snaked slowly through with fans able to sit in the locker areas and have a quick photo taken. Luis of San Francisco was touring the clubhouse for the first time.

'It's a nice opportunity to be in the clubhouse,' he said.

And up in the press box, with it's expansive views over the stadium and beyond to the bay, was Steve, of Sacramento.

Steve has been a fan since 1968 and doesn't have a favourite player. His most vivid memory of the Giants is 'as a kid listening to Lon Simmons on the radio.'

His hopes for the team for 2010 are 'to be competitive.'

Out on the pitch, KNBR 680 were hosting a Question and Answer session, and around the stadium, memorabilia and Giants sportswear were on sale with hats being a popular try-on item.

By lunchtime, long queues were building up at the familiar food stalls.
But the Giants are not just past and present. They are also about the future. Two up-and-coming players tagged as 'hot prospects for San Francisco' are 22-year-old Clayton Tanner and 26-year-old Paul Oseguera. They were in the Giants' lobby signing autographs for fans as they arrived.

Both are hoping to make it into the Giants' team - 'Absolutely, that's the goal!' said Paul - and soon.

'Hopefully next year,' he said.

Both players have a distinctive characteristic, they are 'lefties'!

'It's one of the biggest advantages in baseball,' said Clayton. 'It's pretty much perfect. It means you will always find a job somewhere.'

When he was younger, he hadn't wanted to be a pitcher but had ambitions to play in a position like an outfielder. But all coaches test out left-handers with pitching, he said, and when his coach at high school followed the pre-ordained path....the rest became history.

Clayton, and likewise Paul, were netted for their pitching talents.

pic: Paul, fan Jocelyn who was delighted to meet them, Clayton

17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest - 2

Fans of the San Francisco Giants today were celebrating the approach of the 2010 season at the 17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest - see previous blog

For infielder Pablo Sandoval as he sat in one of the autograph booths, he not only met a fan, but one who looks like him!

'I've been told left and right I look like Pablo,' said Adan of San Francisco as he waited in line. And sure enough, even as he neared the table, one of

the Giants' staff glanced at him and said, 'You look similar to Pablo!'

Adan seems to be making baseball look-alikes the story of his life. Before Pablo, it was catcher Bengie Molina. Perhaps he has simply grown to be like them as he has been a fan 'since I was a little tiny one.'

'I was a Barry Bonds fan for a long time,' he said.
pics also of  Ryan Rohlinger & Manny Burriss

Esther, from the Bay Area, is also a 'Panda Bear' Sandoval fan, though she hadn't yet collected his autograph.
She's been a Giants fan since she was little. Her hopes for the season are 'A lot of wins. Just like they say, "Win, Baby!"'

Ashlee of San Jose and Taryn of the Bay Area were waiting in expectation at an empty autograph table, not knowing who was about to fill it.

Ashlee named Kevin Frandsen as her favourite player 'because he's from the Bay Area. He's a great player,' while Taryn plumped for 'Timmy'.

And $13 million? 'He's worth every penny!' they chorused.

Minutes later, they were excitedly collecting autographs from Dan Runzler, Alex Hinshaw and Buster Posey. (Taryn lt, Ashlee rt)

Tickets were also on sale today, with an offer of selected seats for as low as $5.

'Baseball is the best bargain you can get - for sports tickets!' said Rich from Marin County. He was up on the second tier, trying out the seats he, his brother Wayne, of San Francisco and friend, Mike, of Vallejo, had purchased. 

A single ticket where he was sitting costs $34, but in front of him were seats on sale for $2,772 for the season.

Great value, considering there are over 160 games to a season, and compared to football at $100 a game, thought Rich.

Rich is originally from Baltimore and moved to San Francisco in 1974. But his roots with the Giants go back to the 1950s.

'I have always followed Willie Mays. Willie Mays made me a Giants fan,' he said.

His prediction for this season? '86 to 90 game wins. We won about 86 last year. I don't think there will be much difference from last year.'  pic: top, Wayne, lt, Mike, rt, & Rich

cont in next blog

17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest

For thousands of San Francisco Giants' fans, today was an orange and black sizzler of a Saturday!

It was the day to celebrate the 17th Annual KNBR 680 Giants FanFest, a free open-house at the ballpark that enabled them to collect autographs from some of their favourite players, walk the ground and sit where their heroes sit, raise money for charity and set their thoughts on the 2010 season.

And it was free.

The star of the team, two-times winner in succession of the Cy Young Award, Tim Lincecum, was there early in the morning.

Even if fans didn't get his autograph, there was plenty of support for his request to raise his salary from $650,000 to a cool $13 million. The Giants have offered $8 million and the matter is set to go to arbitration this month.
'I'm excited!'  said Jessica from the Bay Area, relishing the atmosphere of the dugout for the first time and looking forward to the new season.

Asked if Tim Lincecum was worth $13 million...'Hell, yes!' she said, nearly jumping off the bench. And if he pulls off an incredible feat of winning the Cy Young Award for a third year in a row?

'I'm going to be ecstatic!" And then she would pay Tim $30 million. 'I think he should be paid what (Barry) Zito is getting paid, $120 million over six years, I believe that's what it is,' she said.

What are her expectations of this season?  'Hopefully, a winning season,' she said.

In line in one of the three autograph booths were Vida Blue, Roberto Kelly, Shawon Dunston and Mark Gardner. And queuing to see them were Megan, from San Francisco, and Lauren, from the Bay Area.

Their favourite players?

'Tim Lincecum,' said Megan. 'He's 'The Freak'!' she added simply, giving the reason for her choice. pic - Megan & Roberto Kelly

And worth $13 million?


Lauren picked pitcher Brian Wilson, 'because he's a darn good closer. He's not too bad looking, either!'

How do they think $13 million compares with other players?
The top-paid player in the US is Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod - of the New York Yankees at around $25 million, their friend, Robby, pitched in. And the average salary is $2 - $3 million a year, he said.

He wouldn't give Lincecum as much as $13 million. 'I think it's a bit much, but he does deserve at least the $8 million, maybe $10 million. He's a really good pitcher,' he reckoned.

Though if Lincecum gets a third Cy Young Award then he 'definitely' would be worth $13 million.

Robby's player of the season is Brian Wilson. 'His style is different to anyone else's, he's really nifty.'
pic - Robby & Shawon Dunston

cont in next blog

Friday, February 5, 2010

Abagnale the Pier 39 Sea Lion Returned to the Wild

Host unlimited photos at for FREE! Abagnale, the Pier 39 sea lion entangled in a fishing line and who was rescued nearly 100 miles away, has recovered from his injuries and was released back into the wild today.

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!'There was a wonderful audience to see him go, with members of the public, school groups and the media,' said Marine Mammal Center spokesman, Jim Oswald this afternoon.

Abagnale was released at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands, not far from the Center's Sausalito headquarters, at about 12.15 pm.
Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

Yesterday, the Center put out a press release giving Abagnale a clean bill of health. 'Veterinarians gave Abagnale a second examination this week and it appears that there are no other medical complications. His wounds are showing signs of healing, he’s active, eating and is quite feisty!

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
'Veterinarians feel confident that he’ll thrive wonderfully back in the ocean.' 

Are staff sorry to see him go?

'No! On the contrary!' They are very happy,' said Jim. 'This is a story of successful treatment and of an animal being able to return to the wild.'

Abagnale was dehydrated and malnourished when captured but today is returning to the ocean weighing a healthy 347 lbs, a gain of 46 lbs from when he was admitted into the center on January 24.
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In the animal hospital he was kept in a private pen for his recovery due to the fact that he had been entangled for several weeks, and was also stressed from the many rescue attempts and being in a strange place.

But with rest and antibiotics he soon began to recover and found his appetite. He ate just over 100 lbs of herring during his 13-day stay!
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The specialist rescue team logged just over 280 hours of rescue time, a major feat as this compares with about 900 hours over the whole of last year.

His rescue was 'not completely unique but it was traumatic,' said Jim. The rescue team of 14 trained volunteers, lead by Sue Pemberton - pic - are trained specifically with the benefit of the center's experience of 35 years and over 15,000 marine mammal rescues.

And safety both of the animals and the team is their concern. As Marjorie Boor, who scoured the seas in a rescue boat around Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz in the hunt for Abagnale said of sea lions, 'They are intelligent. You can look them in the eye and tell there's some connection there. But make no mistake, they'll bite your arm right off.'

Most of the animals needing to be rescued are entwined in marine debris such as plastics, netting, fishing line and crab-pot lines.

Abagnale's story illustrates the point. 'It represents the danger of marine debris and how it can affect marine mammals,' said Jim. He urged people to 'take a second look' at how their behaviour can cause marine debris.

And they are emphasising this point on the Center website.

Abagnale was first spotted late in the evening of New Year's Day at Fisherman's Wharf but a rescue attempt was postponed until daylight the following day for safety reasons. Soon after that, however, he swum nearly 100 miles to Moss Landing and was next seen five days later in Monterey Bay.

It also marks a 'first' in the way center staff were able to capture him. After three weeks and 20 rescue attempts the elusive Abagnale - he was named after Leonardo diCaprio's character in 'Catch Me If You Can' - had mild sedatives shot into him to slow him down while in the water.

Animals are not normally sedated in water in case they drown.

pics from the Marine Mammal Center photographer, Maria de Stafanis.

For more pics and info, and a video:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ocean Beach 'Armoring' Given Go Ahead

The severe problem of erosion at Ocean Beach is to be remedied by constructing a large rock barrier, the Board of Supervisors decided this afternoon.

The emergency work of 'armoring' is to start tomorrow and will cost $2.6 million. It will run across 900 ft of beach from Sloat Boulevard, and opposite the San Francisco zoo.

The decision, in favour of the Department of Public Works, ends a campaign by environmentalists and surfers who had hoped to persuade the Board to vote instead for a much more expensive sand barrier.

Although the sand barrier would mean that erosion would slowly continue, it would preserve the beach for surfing, swimming and recreational use, argued the Save the Waves Coalition and the San Francisco Chapter of Surfrider Foundation.

They also said that the use of rocks will accelerate erosion on either side of the barrier.

But the DPW were concerned about the Great Highway - California's coastal route - and the huge wastewater tunnel that lies beneath it. The Lake Merced Wastewater Tunnel is 14 ft in diameter with a 10 million gallon capacity.

The San Francisco Zoo also borders the road - pic below

Yesterday afternoon work was going on on the top of the bluff while surfers were out on the ocean.

Al surfs there a couple of times a week but admitted to not following the debate too closely.

'I always figure things are going to turn out for the best. I thought initially they were talking about the parking lot and the road. I don't really care about that, it might even cut down on the crowds!' he said.

But he was happy to pitch his vote in with the surfers.

'If they're against the rocks, then I'm against the rocks! If it does affect the surf, then I'll be outraged! This is a really nice spot,' he said.