Just days before the event's proposed commencement, a new sponsor has doubled the prize money for the Mavericks Surf Contest, increasing the purse from $75,000 to $150,000. Barracuda Networks, Inc., a Web security company, sweetened the pot yesterday with their hefty, five-figure donation. The newly added resources—combined with the original sponsorship dollars provided last month by MVision, a private equity advisement firm—launch the event into the record books, making it the highest-paying big-wave event ever.
With a sizeable swell forecasted, contestants are already enthusiastic about the opportunity simply to partake in the event, but surely no one would object to an increased ante. "There really is no amount of money on Earth that could compensate the guys for the risks they take out there at Mavericks," says Keir Beadling, the CEO of Mavericks Surf Ventures, the event organizers, "but I honestly believe they'd surf in the contest with no prize purse."
Many big-wave surfers have struggled to gain industry support and sponsorships, so perhaps this contribution—and this event—will help to jump-start a long-overdue recognition of these daring hellmen. And, as the surf industry budgets for events dwindle, maybe we'll see a trend toward more outside endorsements in both big-wave and other professional surfing arenas.
As of yet, it's uncertain when the contest will run. "The swell seems to be coming in more slowly than expected," says Keir, "so we're trying to get a grip on its arrival. It's an exciting time, and we're taking it seriously. Whatever call we make—whether we jump on this swell now or sit back and reassess—will be the right one."