About Mavericks

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More detailed explanation from the National Marine Sanctuary Website,

In early March 1961, three surfers, Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Knottmeyer, decided to try the distant waves off Pillar Point. With them was a white-haired German Shepherd named Maverick, owned by a roommate of Matienzo. Maverick was used to swimming out with his owner, or with Matienzo, while they were out surfing. The trio left Maverick on shore but he swam out and caught up with them. Finding the conditions too unsafe for the dog, Matienzo paddled back and tied Maverick to the car bumper before rejoining the others. The riders had success that day, surfing overhead peaks about 1/4 mile from shore, just along the rocks that are visible from shore. They decided to name the point after Maverick, who seemed to have gotten the most out of the experience. It became known as “Maverick’s Point”, and later simply “Maverick’s”.

Fast forward to 1975 when 17-year-old Jeff Clark, a Half Moon Bay native, paddled out alone to face Maverick’s and was successful in catching a number of left-breaking waves (topping out at 20-24 feet), thereby becoming the first person (documented) to tackle Maverick’s head-on. Clark had been an avid observer of Maverick’s from an early age, watching the break from the campus of Half Moon Bay High School and on the rugged coastal shores of Pillar Point at a time when the location was deemed too dangerous to surf.


Following his successful first ride, Clark spent many days, months and years surfing Maverick’s alone. The first big-wave surfing contest at Maverick’s was held in 1999 with Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Richard Schmidt, Ross Clarke-Jones, and Peter Mel taking first, second, third, and fourth places, respectively. Since then six contests have taken place at the site in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.The first big-wave surfing contest at Maverick’s was held in 1999. The competition resulted in Darryl Virostko (“Flea”), Schmidt, Ross, and Peter Mel taking first, second, third, and fourth places, respectively.


The second competition was held the following year and put Darryl Vrotsos, Kelly Slater, Tony Ray, Peter Mel, Zach Wormhoudt, and Matt Ambrose in first through sixth places.


In 2004, with Darryl Virostko, Matt Ambrose, Evan Slater, Anthony, Peter Mel, and Grant Washburn placing in spots first through sixth. The 2005 winner was Anthony Taconic. In 2006, Grant Baker, from South Africa, won first place, with Tyler Smith (Santa Cruz) and Brock Little (Hawai’i) in second and third places. Organizers called off the 2007 contest because unusually mild weather resulted in no days with suitable waves by the end of March, the usual cutoff time for holding the competition. That same year Twiggy was featured on the cover of Surfing Magazine titled, “Unknown Surfer Claims Big Wave Showdown”. Frank Quirarte photo went on to win Surfer Magazines Prestigious Photo of the Year as well.


In 2008, Greg Long, from San Clemente, was crowned Maverick’s Champion, Grant Baker (South Africa) won second place and Jamie Sterling (Hawai’i) won third place, followed by Tyler Smith in fourth, Grant Washburn in fifth, and Evan Slater in sixth. The contest was canceled in 2009 due to small swell conditions. In 2010 South Africa’s Chris British took first place; winning the largest prize purse in history of surfing of US$150 000, sponsored by Moose Guen, Jane Sunderland and Barracuda Networks.

For future competition Mvision Private Equity advisors are sponsoring the prize “ten for ten” which is US$10 000 to the person has the best ride.

AT&T Park in San Francisco, host live broadcasts of the event on its giant (110 foot wide) video display when Mavericks surf contests are held. Tickets for this event are generally $20–$25.[5]

In October 2006, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary proposed barring personal watercraft from Maverick’s, which led to disputes within the sport.

In the Fall of 2010 a group of surfers, community leaders and contest organizers joined together to form the Half Moon Bay Surf Group Inc with the aim of regaining control of the contest over former event management. In October, the San Mateo Harbor Commission granted the permit to hold the contest to HMB Surf Group and official planning of the inaugural “The Jay at Maverick’s Big Wave Invitational” began.

Effect of bathymetry on Mavericks’ waves

In December 2011, 42-year old actor Gerard Butler of 300 was shooting a new film called Of Men and Mavericks when he was pounded by a set of 12-16 foot waves at Mavericks. Butler was held underwater for several waves and dragged through rocks until rescued by a safety worker on a jetski.


Mavericks in Film

The first video images were shot by Eric W. Nelson in February 1990. On that sunny day Jeff Clark paddled out with Dave Schmidt and Tom Powers. Eric was shooting for his community access television show “Powerlines Surf-Spots”. This would be the genesis of the Powerlines Productions company that showcases big wave surfing around the world.

Nelson’s first film was “‘High Noon at Low Tide’” 1994/2005. In 1998 he produced another big wave documentary Twenty Feet Under. Meanwhile Curt Myers, another local filmmaker, had produced Shifting Peaks and Heavy Water 1994/1995.

On December 11, 1998, during a big Northwest open ocean swell reaching 20–25 feet, Curt Myers was shooting from the water and Eric was shooting from land. On this memorable swell they joined forces and produced the mini documentary twelveleven.

Maverick’s is featured in the 1998 documentary Maverick’s, a one hour PBS film that chronicles the break’s early years, and the 2004 film Riding Giants, which documents the history of big wave surfing. Directed by skateboarder turned documentary producer Stacey Peralta (best known for the skating documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys), Riding Giants includes interviews and commentary materials with many of the surfers mentioned in this article.

In the film ZoolanderOwen Wilson‘s character’s entourage includes a big wave surfer from Maverick’s.

Of Men and Mavericks, A bio pic about the life of Mavericks surfer Jay Moriarity started production in October, 2011. The film stars Gerard Butler as Frosty Hesson, Abigail Spencer as Brenda Hesson, Frosty’s wife. Jonny Weston as Jay Moriarty, Elizabeth Shue as Christy Moriarty, Jays Mother; Leven Rambin as Kim Moriarty, Jay’s Wife. Maya Rains plays Roque Hesson daughter for Frosty and Brenda, Patrick and Asher Tesler (twins) portray Lake, son of Frosty and Brenda.


Other Mavericks Titles,

Year of the Drag-In – Mavsurfer Films/Powerlines Productions

Return of the Drag-In – Mavsurfer Films

Gravity Sucks – Chris Bystrom

Heavy Water – Curt Myers

Shifting Peaks – Curt Myers

Twenty Feet Under – Powerlines Productions

High Noon at Low Tide – Powerlines Productions

Twelve Eleven – Powerlines Productions

Whipped – Powerlines Productions

Mavericks Documentary Film – Lili Schad – Grant Washburn — http://www.grantwashburn.com

Down the Line – Powerlines Productions

Quest for Fear – Grant Washburn

Wild California (iMax) Macgillivary Freeman Films – http://www.macgillivrayfreemanfilms.com/site/

Making the Call – Surfline –http://www.surfline.com

Step into Liquid – Dana Brown Films – http://www.stepintoliquid.com/

100 Foot Wednesday – Powerlines Productions

Fueled – Powerlines Productions

Monster Mavericks – Mark Matovich Films

Beyond Monster Mavericks – Mark Matovich Films

Ride on – Powerlines Productions




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