A New Vision for Mavericks

The Mavericks Invitational moves away from sponsorship and toward self-reliance

| posted on January 11, 2012

Ken "Skindog" Collins, a ringer for the late Jay Moriarty. Photo: Warmington

The Mavericks Invitational is back, but it won’t look as it did before. The usual gallery at Pillar Point, where tens of thousands would line the cliffs and scale the bluffs for the best perspective, are now completely off-limits to spectators.

Jeff Clark, Mavericks pioneer and 2012 Contest Director, said it’s first and foremost for public safety. Clark and crew met with the local governing agencies—including the parks, sheriff, harbor district, and Coast Guard—to come up with this plan.

The measure is being taken in response to the incident at the contest in February 2010, when a high-tide set wave rushed over the cliff, sweeping more than 50 onlookers off their feet and injuring 13.

Clark said the plan also helps to protect the marshland and bluffs from the foot traffic of thousands. It restricts access to all cliffs and areas near the point, including the closing of coastal roads for everyone but residents.

“That’s the biggest change,” said Clark. “I think it’s a good one, because now all those visitors coming to the coast aren’t just wandering around the point trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Spectators are now limited to watching the live webcast at home, or at a big-screen viewing at the inaugural Mavericks Invitational Festival: a $25-per-person affair at a local hotel just north of Half Moon Bay. The festival aims to centralize the stoke in a way that can replace the cliff-top experience. There will be jumbotrons streaming the event, food, drinks, an awards ceremony, and more—all in the heart of town.

Clark doesn’t shy from the fact that it’s meant to generate a considerable revenue stream, but for a major contest without a sponsor, he said it’s what needs to be done, and the locals are responding positively to the idea.

“Bringing the contest back has been a struggle for me for the last couple years. Our fans are so stoked that it’s back, and that it’s going to happen,” says Clark. “They feel like if they can contribute to help the show go on, they’re behind it. Our main goal is to become a self-supporting contest. Wouldn’t that be better than trying to track down a main sponsor every year?”

To add to the hype of the contest’s return, the wave has become a starlet of sorts in recent weeks while $250,000 camera setups hover from helicopters and whir around on jet skis during the high-budget filming of Of Men and Mavericks, a feature on the life of Santa Cruz legend Jay Moriarty. There is a stacked lineup of chargers acting as stunt doubles for Moriarty, all decked out in his signature O’Neill wetsuit and riding his classic Pearson Arrow gun. A bounty is up for grabs for the stunt double who can successfully replicate Jay’s iconic wipeout as a 16-year-old at Mavs in 1994, which later adorned the cover of SURFER.

Simultaneously, they’ve recently begun to crack down on cameramen and rescuers using personal watercraft (PWC) on the set of the film. Officers are handing out tickets that start at $500 to enforce the PWC ban, but fines can increase up to $100,000 if they are appealed, on some very expensive sense of principle.

The Mavericks Invitational opening ceremony was in early January, and the waiting period is open from now until the end of March. Early season North Pacific storms have turned Mavs on as of late, and show promise for the potential of a solid swell for the event. The field of 24 has been set, and the competitors are standing by for an eventual call from Clark, who will give out a 24-hour notice when the contest is on.

Find more about the contest and the wave at

  • R. Bixenmann

    So in other words, Jeff Clark owns the hillsides and believes physical weathering is disrupting the cliffs?
    What about the trails at Bells? Lots of movement of materials there… blah, blah, blah…what about kicking sand at Huntington… Trestles…so ridiculous.

    This is absolutely disgusting and this guy thinks he “knows whats best” for the collective. So I can’t watch the contest now because of hillside weathering and a rogue wave every 4-5 years? Clark, you are no hero…but are denying access to something in open waters for … what exactly?
    I’m wondering here. Oh ok, I get to watch it on the internet and not drive down to see thanks to you…this is ridiculous. How has no one commented on this yet?

  • http://www.digitalsoupdesignz/ Brian Morris

    Why is not redbull helping this monster?

  • Mik

    The PWC fines being levied are typical of the heavy-handed HMB govt. The same govt. that went bankrupt after a lawsuit against them. The same that lost its bloated police force as a result, which ironically was also very aggressive in writing tickets, as a stream of income. Personally, I and allot of friends avoid HMB for those reasons. I don’t drive through there looking for surf, or for anything else. Glad that the contest is on, as I did go for that. But their PWC fines are small minded. They save lives. More than what the HMB govt. does. Besides, PWC’s do no more damage than the fishing, and commercial BOATS do, of which there is a harbor full, so where’s the logic? The extension to the Harbor destroyed surfing quality at the jetty, as well.

  • JCK

    Does anyone care about the Mav contest anymore? It’s more of a soap opera that a contest at this point. So much drama over a wave..

  • rayden

    this “contest” just gets stranger – its a bloody soap opera, and i cant help but feel that the santa cruz crew have too much say in matters – let’s be honest, the majority are so far up their own ego-rich asses that eco-safety and protecting the environment etc is NOT what’s motivating the cliff-top / beach ban – it’s the pursuit of more media dollars by a group of selfish ego monkeys…..and i truly couldnt give a damn about it – FAIL

  • Beth Sez

    Hey R. Bizenmann, Clark isn’t closing the bluffs. It is a mandate by the police and parks and County. It started last year, when Clark wasn’t involved. Do your homework before bashing other people. Kook. He is working with the local community to find a way to give something to the public, something taken away by the poor organization in previous years when people got hurt.
    People pay more than $25 to park in SF to walk past homeless people. At least they are creating a fun event and something for people to do who are true fans and not bitter, grumpy old men like you. Stay home, we here on the coast don’t want to meet you anyway.

  • Matt O’Brien

    Beth – well said. Rayden – obviously YOU CARED ENOUGH TO POST A COMMENT AND READ THIS ARTICLE! “Fail” – says you, HA!
    Mik, totally agree. Also found it funny that Ocean Beach wouldn’t let PWCs BUT There were Giant Tankers Hauling Cheap Crap the World Over in the background of the event site. CC makes no sense to me – anybody else see logic in PWC ban BUT no concern for Marine Sanctuary when Commercial Fishing/Boats are involved. Thanks Mik for throwing this tid-bit out there.
    R. Bixenmann – WOW, can’t really say much else.
    As for the soap opera comments concerning events – all the more reason to watch it on TV/web… it IS a drama show after all. At least according to those that think so.
    DAMN! Mav’s is back in surfers hands (which is good), just enjoy it and if you don’t want to watch it don’t. INTERNET HATERS ARE SO TOUGH!!! Man, I personally can’t wait to drink cold beer and watch MEN ride MOUNTAINS (I know “we” can’t say that anymore…) from the comforts of my own home with my friends and lady besides me. Its gonna be the BEST DAMN SOAP OPERA EVER! (oh yeah, I hyped it!)

  • Mike S

    Although I understand the good intentions I think Jeff has gone about it the wrong way. Jeff should instead accept more sponsors and use the revenue to build safe viewing areas and paved trails as well as protect the marshlands. Otherwise, this tournament will die and the marshlands will get no money for their protection either.

  • Dan Fosgett

    I understand the need to protect the marshland from the heavy foot traffic and the Spectators that are not aware of the danger of high tide and high surf. Closing it down completely to spectators does not promote the contest. I want to experience the event live. Not from a hotel bar or at home from a live stream on the web. Come AWN!

    Stupid kooks not aware of the danger of the waves and lawyers getting involved have damaged the event permanently. So sad.

  • Rhodes G.

    “..use the revenue to build safe viewing areas and paved trails “: But there is no area to build safe viewing there. The surf break is half mile off the nearest point of the bluff as it is. ‘Paved trails’?? There? Won’t fly in that area. There is a trail that goes up behind the big radar tower overlooking Ross Cove giving a good side view of the Mavericks break. I am sure they will close that too. At least I can say I have seen it, though far away I was. It is a spectacle.

  • scotty

    maybe the contest should just be off. The original lure of Mavs was for the people with big balls to ride huge waves. Now it seems that has been lost and all anyone talks about is riding big waves at Mavs for money. Let the guys who charge it, charge it…..and the rest of us can see the pics in the mags. I agree, this has become a big drama over $$$$$…..not watching people charge. The guys who charge it will be charging it even if there is no money surrounding it. Lose the contest……Clark will probably be a much more relaxed person if this all just went away. Such a shame to see guys with the biggest balls of any athletes around sacrifice their dignity for one contest and one check.

  • rayden

    Matt: I care enough to speak my mind….unlike you, sucking down beers while watching this drama online (btw, MEN ride in solitude – scared men get every manner of life-preservation possible), I’ll be riding waves like the rest of us: without being paid to do what I love, without needing my nuts stroked by an industry more inclined to surf exploitation than surf site preservation, and far from the madding crowd – long live Mavs, long live Target, long live Nike….

  • Janna Wertz

    Please let us landlubbers, who can’t get to the West Coast, where we will be able to watch your gnarly waves live on the web. Two years ago, friends got together and watched it using Facebook.Fantastic! Any updates or plans would be appreciated.

  • website

    Hi to every one, it

  • Hawaii Accident Lawyer

    Hi friends, its enormous piece of writing on the topic of cultureand completely defined, keep it up all the time.