Mel Wins Mavericks

In less-than-ideal conditions, Peter Mel claims victory at the Mavericks Invitational

| posted on January 20, 2013

Pete Mel, taking critical take-offs to another level at Mavericks. Photo: Glaser

There was a sense of inevitability when dawn broke on the much anticipated Mavericks Invitational presented by GoPro. Half Moon Bay was buzzing with activity, but down on the docks salty locals exchanged grim looks as word of the conditions filtered back from the lineup a mile away. The tide was high, the reports said. It’s inconsistent, they warned. It’s still not that big, they complained.

In a big-wave event of this caliber, we’ve come to expect certain things, namely terrifying waves and surfers pushing themselves to their limits and beyond to meet the challenge. It was clear this morning that the day would not embody that ideal, but the call had been made—police were cordoning off streets, helicopters were circling overhead, 24 big-wave surfers had dropped everything to be there, and thousands of fans were descending upon the small town. The hype juggernaut had built up enough inertia to plough through anything, even a tepid ocean. The show would go on regardless of the conditions.

There is no doubt that there’ll be plenty of noise about the decision to run the event, especially when some competitors were voicing concerns about the swell not being big enough as early as Friday morning.

“Deciding whether or not to run was pretty brutal,” said Contest Director Gary Linden. “Last night I went surfing out there and there were a lot of long lulls. This morning looked similar when we made the call. We tried to be positive, but a couple of surfers this morning didn’t even want to surf, but we just pressed on and got through it.

There was a lot more than just a contest in motion here. We had the festival and everything and as we become a bigger event, it becomes harder to pull off. If we were down in Todos Santos and it wasn’t all that great, we might have just cut our losses. But out there today, it was just a matter of accepting that it would be a little difficult to find good waves. But it was still contestable. If it had been a lake out there, of course we wouldn’t have sent them out there to do water ballet. It had to be legit, and I think we did okay. A really good big-wave break like Mavericks will be impressive no matter what when it’s breaking.”

And truth be told it was impressive when the waves eventually rolled through. Even in its tame incarnation, Mavericks has teeth, and the flotilla of over 50 boats saw more than their fair share of steep drops and clean rides even if they did look eerily similar to an over-gunned day at say, Backdoor Pipeline or the Sunset bowl.

One thing is certain, the clean conditions made Greg Long’s return to the big-wave arena that much easier. There was speculation aplenty about how Long’s near drowning at the Cortes Bank last month would affect him when conditions got dangerous, and although today didn’t exactly put him through his paces, his third place finish was a critical first step to putting the episode behind him.

With the finalists deciding to split the winner’s check before the heat began, it came as no surprise that there was more jockeying among the boats in the channel during the hour-long final than there was in the lineup. The flotilla, lulled into a stupor by six hours of diesel asphyxiation and mind-numbing circling of the lake-like channel, was sluggish to scatter when the largest set of the final ploughed into the channel. The adrenalin spike seemed to kickstart the final, which became a shoot out between two Santa Cruz favorites Peter Mel and Zach Wormhoudt. Eventually it was the sentimental favorite, and Mavericks stalwart, Peter Mel who was crowned the champion. And although the 2013 Mavericks Invitational won’t be remembered for it’s size or ferocity, Peter Mel’s name will be etched into the history books as the man who surfed it best.

Click here for an interview with Peter Mel after his Mavericks victory.

  • http://SurferMagazine Chris

    From an online standpoint, the coverage of the contest was absolutely terrible. Very shaky web feed (which couldn’t be accessed through the site), no consistent heat result updates on the live feed or on Twitter (ridiculous), and a huge gap between comp’s end and the announcement of the final results. This event should be one of the premier live feed events in the world, and it’s online coverage was an absolute disappointment.

    Hopefully, GoPro sticks on, learns from today’s mistakes, and pumps more $$$ into this event because it deserves a GRADE A production. Quik’s production of the Eddie is 10X better, and you can better damn guarantee that Red Bull’s coverage of the Jaws comp will be spot on.

  • Don

    I can’t believe they decided to run this monumental contest because the “weather is perfect.” Please hire new contest directors who have a little more back bone and let the old ones call the coldwater classic. Eddie Wouldn’t Go out there today.

  •!/mohayrix RixMohay

    Too bad GoPro blew it. I am going to send mine back. Yes there was no coverage and I heard it from a friend who doesn’t even have cable or Internet. So Far GOPRO is a no go!!!

  • hugh

    the webcast sucked and what? it was free, too complain about something that is free does’nt quite seem right too me, if i had paid some of my hard earned money yes i would be bummed..
    agreed it could have been significantly better, and it should of been as this comp deserves the recognition from the world.
    but you know, you can only learn from mistakes, so with any luck the next time will be an improvement.

  • Steve Wimer

    Shawn Dollar and Zack showed mastery of the reef. I thought one of those guys should have won.

  • Neil

    As the future of profesional surfing surely lies in the development of the web cast as the best way to reach a global audience of true fans, then those with an interest in it should be bummed and should complain about the shocking quality. Yes it was free, but thats not the point. The audience in webland is the one the surfing industry needs to court. I personnally would pay to subscribe to a quality web service to access quality surfing web casts – be it ASP or big wave. And guess what – theres probably several other million people who would too. Thats money that can go back into our sport and support the majority of struggling athletes that would be professionals. Coming from South Africa thats something that is all too obviously needed – maybe much more so than in Califorina. So come on – you leaders of the industry get it right, and do it quick to take this opportunity. Red Bull – when you give us crap and don’t appologise for it – such as no scores from heats, no info at all in fact and endless loops of old stuff – you alienate your potential future audience. Yes, we will put up with some teething problems, but you can do much better and you may not realise it, but many people are depending on you getting it right.

  • chuck walters

    any idiot who knows anything about swell prediction could see it wasn’t going to be big or consistant…greed makes the final decisions in these circumstances. Get yourself a surfboard and wetsuit and for get all the other crap the industry is trying to sell you.

    • fluid-dancer

      boy you sure are cranky!

  • tyler

    Yeah the webcast was TERRIBLE. Worst in a long time even though silicon valley is 30 miles away…

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I don’t know why people are complaining about red bull, it was the only link that worked, and on the facebook/twitter feed redbull continiously stated that they didn’t have any control of the quality of the feed, the commentary or the scores. To be fair to the poor guy who had to post those post’s, he must have been pretty sick of surfers at the end of the day. When I started watching it there was an hour where the only comment was ‘where is Kelly’ and then constant complaints about something redbull had no control over. Maybe he gave up by the time of the final, can’t say I blame him

  • Us Surfers

    First thank you GoPro for your efforts in supporting this contest.
    BAD CALL to run the event! Why?

    Jeff Clark,
    Just because you have blue skies and little waves on a Sunday does not mean you have to run the event. Complete GREED! Step down already.


  • Richard Fitzwell

    This contest was pathetic they should have moved the venue up the road to ocean beach where the real barrels were happening. Please never run a bigwave contest in 10 ft surf again. It was like watching the Eddie at pin balls. At least quicksilver has their shit together when it comes to a big wave contest. Any goon that paddles out with a go pro on his board at my spot is getting stuffed!!!

  • Pierre

    Haha! Well said Richie Fitzwell, I agree with you on this. They definitely should have wait for bigger waves. that was NOT a proper big swell. Plus the coverage of the contest was bad… GO-Pro appeared to be a beginner when it comes to webcasting, even though I admit that filming in big waves is not a simple thing to do.

  • Mark

    What a joke. I gave up on the feed (thru Surfline, thank you!) about noon. Too small for a great Big Wave event. Get new contest director. Time for Jeff to step back down as you made a very poor choice on running it with such inconsistant and suspect swell conditions. Yeah, there was great weather and tide was right, but the meat of this event was missing…Big Waves! I was embarrased for the surfers.

  • http://Surfline Bmott

    Quit being haters, go pro had some sick shots in the barrel ie Healys left next year will be better,
    Plus perfect weather and no one got hurt. Be there aloha

  • Johnny Lettuce

    Well when I first saw Mavs in the 80s I called it “mystos” and Jeff Clark was “The phantom”, I knew this was one of the best big waves on the planet. I first paddled out in 93 and surfed it from 95-98, sometimes alone and often with only a handful of guys out, I told Jeff I knew of a few waves similiar to it up the coast and one wave down the coast….. I still sometimes see these waves empty; while on a “small” day at Mavs these days there will be 30-50 guys out. I guess being anonymous has its advantages.The contest epitomized “big wave” surfing these days; everybodys has got a camera on their board and the pictures gotta be on social media immediately. Ironically some of the biggest waves ever ridden at Mavs went undocumented; January 2, 1998: 30’+@17sec with 2 guys out Jay and Dougal…..

  • ginz

    please guys do not sell yourselves short. Big wave contests should be the biggest watched events in pro surfing. Keep control of your destiny and make sure the critical decisions are made by you guys. This event did nothing for your cause, do it right or not at all. Good luck , best wishes

  • Mike McBride (DynoComm)

    Unless you have shot Mavericks or done a TV or webcast you have no Idea what it entails. The pressure to run an event is also monumental. Let’s just back off a bit and think what happened… Someone actually pumped some money into our sport and tried to give the fan something great. I wasn’t what we had hoped for, but no doubt Go Pro and the entire group will learn from the experience. I’m glad they tried and I know the kind of pressure they were experiencing. That said, I just want to Say congrats to Peter, Zach and Greg.

    I look forward to the next event and hope it will be a great success.


  • http://mavericks Dave

    Really miss Sean on calls like this; he would have contributed wisely to the wave forecast, as he most often did since our days at Wilson HS, Long Beach. Even so, these things should keep us all humble and know that we don’t really control anything, He does.

  • Jenn&Jeff

    You know just because the waves aren’t huge doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the contest.. Why is “nothing” better than a little “something”.. I mean everyone was there, everyone.. why the hell would they just turn everyone away just because the waves weren’t immense.. PLEASE…..You guys who say they shouldn’t have run the contest are just ego-jerks who have way too much attitude to ever be a good competitor. And the competitors do NOT need you there with your macho driven remarks about the ‘small waves’.. So you and your boring ego’s could have left the contest and let everyone else with happy attitudes about it enjoy it in peace. Your so negative I feel bad that you have to live life like that. Your LOOOZEERSSS..

  • FredZilch

    Jenn & Jeff, sorry but there are times when “nothing” is better than a little “something”. It takes a huge wave by most standards to make Mavericks break in the way that makes it unique. In the case of a contest of this magnitude, it’s all the more important to hold the event when it’s breaking at optimum size so as to be relevant. Obviously when you introduce media coverage (especially costly in big wave events as it almost always includes video from aircraft) and sponsors interest, there’s an obvious problem with a “waiting period”. Such are the trials and tribulations of introducing the concept of “sport” into surfing.