2009 Maverick’s Surf Contest Opening Ceremony

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If you call it, they will come. Set a day, any day, for the opening ceremony of the Maverick’s Surf Contest, and watch as 24 of the world’s best big-wave riders find a way to be there. 2008 champ Greg Long was on time as usual yesterday, fresh back in the water after an eerie near-drowning in late November perforated his eardrum. The Lance Armstrong of paddling, Jamie Mitchell, made a one-day trip all the way from Oz. A handful of South Africans — including superhero Grant “Twiggy” Baker and Chris Bertish — planned their extended winter vacations around the event. And a small army of heavy watermen — including Jamie {{{Sterling}}}, Brock Little, Carlos Burle and Danilo Couto — took the red-eye from Hawaii to stand on the beach in the gray, biting Half Moon Bay cold for {{{90}}} minutes. But it’s well worth the mission. The Maverick’s Surf Contest is that important to these guys. “Well, it was tough to pull it together this year,” said contest director and Mav’s caretaker Jeff Clark. “But we pulled it off. This is a special day at a special place and I want to thank everyone for making the effort to be here.”

After swirling rumors and fears that the economy would take the Mav’s contest under for a one-year hold-down, somehow it climbed its own leash and fought back to the surface. Apparently, as things looks bleaker by the minute, the spirit company known as Jim Beam generously stepped in and provided some 130-proof support. That enabled the crew at Maverick’s Surf Ventures to secure the $75K in prizemoney and all the other necessary overhead to get perhaps the most-watched surf event in the world off the ground (it does air on NBC, after all).

And it did so yesterday without a hitch. After Clark gave his proper introductions, the surfers paddled out for a shivery circle ceremony inside the Pillar Point lagoon. Everyone had good things to say, but three-time champ Darryl “Flea” Virostko — four months sober after a dark, three-year journey through the Westside forest, was the most candid: “I’m a surfaholic,” he said. “But I’m also an alcoholic and a drug addict….ex! Hoping this year is the biggest one ever — no more pussy-size contests!”

For security, Flea has an “Eddie Would Go” sticker on his brand-new, 9’8″ Stretch quad. “I’m gonna go anyway,” he said. “But this just gives me that little extra motivation.”

It’s the kind of motivation that made the event happen this year. The kind of motivation that produced nearly a 100-percent turnout for the formalities yesterday. And — above all else — the kind of motivation that will push paddle-in big-wave surfing to a whole new level at Maverick’s sometime soon.

Keep an eye on those charts.


·Peter Mel
·Brock LIttle
·Tyler Smith
·Darryl Virostko
·Jamie Sterling
·Matt Ambrose

·Greg Long
·Nathan Fletcher
·Kenny Collins
·Josh Loya
·Dave Wassel
·Tim West

·Anthony Tashnick
·Shawn Rhodes
·Ion Banner
·Ryan Seelbach
·Shane Desmond
·Evan Slater

·Alex Martins
·Chris Bertish
·Grant Baker
·Zach Wormhoudt
·Carlos Burle
·Grant Washburn