Mavericks Wins (South Africa’s Chris Bertish gets a trophy though)
Taylor Paul takes you closer to the 2010 Mavericks surf contest than you’d ever like to go.
By Taylor Paul
Editor’s Note: Taylor Paul, SURFING’s newest, and craziest correspondent is doing his best to continue SURFING Magazine’s illustrious big-wave legacy. Nick Carrol, Evan Slater and now Taylor Paul: journalists who are always down to take you deep into the worlds scariest lineups. As you’ll see this time though, Taylor might have taken us too deep. Be sure to keep an eye out for more from our newest contributor, Santa Cruz’s big-wave ninja, Taylor Paul.
I’m typing this one handed, and the morphine is beginning to wear off. But that’s later. We should start at the beginning. Dawn at the Maverick’s Surf Contest…
I don’t want to surf this. Waves are breaking in places I’ve never seen. 50 foot faces steamroll the lineup. The sun is pink between the mountains and the clouds. There are already ten dudes out. The guys on our boat who aren’t in the contest—Rusty Long, Kohl Kristensen, and Mark Healey—suit up and are in the water before the boat stops. Within minutes, Rusty Long strokes into a 25-foot wave. He’s got some ground to cover if he’s going to make it to the shoulder.
“Pull in!” Greg Long, Dave Wassel, and Twiggy yell at Rusty.
Why would you encourage that? I wonder.
But Rusty’s with them, he leans hard on his inside rail to get under the lip that pitches in slow mo. It’s dark in there. He gets eaten. The thunder of the breaking wave is muddled by the crowd’s screams. I’m glad the contest is today. I’m glad I left my board in the car.
The masses are converging on ‘the Maverick.’ People, specks really, line the cliff as far as north as I can see. From the south they come by boat. Or Jet Skis or SUPs or Kayaks or surfboards — and they congregate inside and over from the bowl. They jockey for the best view as the first heat paddles out. Engines rev. Boat drivers yell commands to one another. No need for radios today, we’re all one big dysfunctional family. I take a deep breath. Ahhhhhh, diesel. About this time Twiggy mimics Rusty’s earlier wave. The growing crowd — surfers, photogs, journalists, and people who shelled out $300 for a spot on a cattle boat — erupt. Back on the boat after his heat Twiggy’s buzzing, “Is that the rush everyone talks about?”
Who will conquer Maverick’s today? Dumb question I guess. Nobody ever conquers Mavs. But the contest will be won by the person with right mix of balls and brains. Too much balls and you eat shit and break your board and spirit. Too much brains and you won’t catch a wave. Some luck will also help.
I replay the video of Twig’s tube for the boys, all huddled around my point and shoot. “Hey,” Healey says over his shoulder to Greg, who is suiting up for his heat, “If you don’t get barreled out there nobody is going to care about you anymore.”
Greg sits 50 yards outside everyone else, waiting for the big ones. Like the ones that opened up for his brother and his best friend. But they don’t materialize, not during his heat. They come for Carlos Burle though, and they come for Chris Bertish. I can’t believe what I’m seeing, people are going on bigger and bigger waves and not just surviving, but getting barreled. I wish I had brought my board.
But I think twice when I see the wipeouts. For every glory ride there are two disasters. Flea air drops into oblivion. So does Ion Banner. But Carlos Burle’s is the worst. As deep as you can go on a 25-foot plus wave and the trucks come off mid-face. We gasp as the world’s most positive person in the lineup, is swallowed by the whole ocean. This happened all day. Boards were broken. Skis went in for rescues. Skis flipped over. Carnage.
That’s just in the water. The most serious injuries of the day occur on land, when spectators, trying to get a glimpse of the action, are hit by a massive set that rocks the normally tranquil lagoon. I know, I know, stupid tourists, right? Maybe. But they were standing next to the scaffolding set up by contest directors. Word of the injuries spread through the water. Some say 10 broken bones, some say 15. Tough to get an accurate answer. Tough to care. All I can concentrate on is this stacking a mile out to sea.
It’s the break between the semis and the final. The set is bigger than anything we’ve seen all day. Shawn Dollar (don’t know the name? You will soon) turns and paddles for what may be a 60 foot face. He drops for about a half hour before the whitewater makes him pay for his feat. “The wave of my life by far,” Shawn tells me later. Shane Dorian looks for and finds another barrel (oh yeah, he came out of one this morning too.) It’s as if the guys who aren’t in the contest are using the intermission as a casting call, bringing their A-game in hopes of being invited to next year’s big show. They read their lines with class and conviction.
During the finals, as South African Chris Bertish is riding the bronco down the faces of the biggest surf ever competed in, my brother paddles out on a board he borrowed from me. He says I can use it for after. Yeah but I don’t have a suit. Greg says he has an extra. I have no excuses, besides the obvious — it’s too fucking big. But after watching such heroic performances, I want in.
“Are you going out?” I ask Travis Payne, who idles his Jet Ski next to the boat. He is a Maverick’s standout and part of the contest’s water patrol team.
“No. Not after the shit I’ve seen today.”
Travis is smart, aware of the consequences. I’m not. I’m the kid who just watched a ninja movie and goes to school to practice his new moves on the class bully.
I paddle out after the final and sit near ninjas Dorian and Healey. We paddle against the wind towards the bowl. The new bowl. All my usual land references are useless for the waves we’re trying to catch. I paddle for a few but I’m too far out, I move in. The horizon elevates. Here it comes. My wave, stacking tall and dark and smooth. Deceptively smooth. I get to my feet, stomp on my front foot and try to set a rail. That’s when the enemies arrive. I dodge the first two, I’m too cunning for them. Then a mighty foe arises. Hiya! Slap goes my face to the water. Over the falls goes my body. Under for nearly two waves. I’m clearing the foam gasping for breath and trying to avoid being sucked back under.
“Hey I’m right here,” yells Jason Murray leaning off his Jet Ski. Where did he come from? I grab the sled and am dizzily dragged to the channel. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day for me.
Tomorrow is now today and I dislocated my shoulder and got swept through the rocks. Talking to Greg Long this evening he says, “If it makes you feel any better, Shane Dorian almost drowned today. Two wave hold down and the third blasted him through the rocks. He came up ghost white.” Maybe a little better.
Chris Bertish won the contest, but Maverick’s will always be victorious.
This gallery is brought to you by surfingthemag.com
Should there really be a Mavericks Contest?
SURFING photog and NorCal local Nathan Lawrence calls Bullshit.
By Nate Lawrence
I’m gonna make this short and sweet. A little Jimmy Wilson THAT’S BULLSHIT, but short because I don’t know how to write that well.
Today was the Mavericks Surf Contest. We’ve all heard the news this year about Jeff Clark splitting from the contest. There’s been controversy on how the contest should be ran. Well I’m here today to ask if there even should be a contest…
A few points.
Shane Dorian. He pretty much won the contest without even being in it. A dry barrel in the morning before the contest. Then in the break before the final, a crazy drop on a solid wave to another dry barrel. Boom. Dorian better be invited next year. But wait, I don’t think there should be a contest next year. Why….
Pete Mel. Besides Dorian’s show today, everyone knows Pete should have won. He should have won it years ago. But the guy hasn’t made a final in…how long. Ever? Somethings not right about that. Is it the heat format? Length of heat? Should 20 guys surf the entire day all together and see who comes out on top? Like a regular day at Mav’s. Like we’ve had 20+ times this year. Just last month he dropped in on the biggest wave of the day and rode it like it was Steamer Lane. Come on. He made his first heat today, but fell short in the semi’s. Did it lull out? A few other guys get lucky? I’m not the one to decide that. All I know is that the best wave rider of today did not win the contest. I’m not putting down the guy who won, just saying he should split his check with Dorian.
The next thing on the list of grievances.
What is up with the Jet Ski rules. Yesterday everyone was talking…
“There not gonna let Jet Ski’s out there,” one source said.
“They had a meeting at fish and game and said they’re issuing fines,” another said.
So I launched my Jet Ski this morning. To shoot photos for you all to see. I don’t really like looking at jersey’s, but some do.
As I arrive in the center of the ocean, I see 30 to 40 boats. 30 to 40 Jet Ski’s. 4 helicopters hovering overhead. I hear someone point out the NOAA boat and say they are threatening fines to those without permits. It is well over an hour before I am beeped by the Harbor Patrol. Lights and all. They approach me and ask if I have a permit.
“Of course I do,” I quickly and confidently reply. “I work for Surfing Mag.”
Like these guys really care.
“Has the NOAA boat talked to you yet?”
“No.” I reply. “But I got a permit.”
I lied. I’m sorry to admit it. But I did not have a permit. Who does? Oh, this K38 lady who was buzzing by people with $5,000 cameras at 30 MPH making wakes hit them. And the Mavericks contest guys obviously have permits. But 30 other people did not. And that leads me to the question. Who decides who gets permits? If they passed a law saying Jet Ski’s are banned from the Monterey Bay, then ban them. But don’t let certain people use them, and certain people not. That’s bullshit.
Oh you, you have to leave. Oh you, you’re ok. Hey guy, beat it.
Can those people, the people allowed to have Jet Ski’s, smoke weed. Oh wait, that’s not a good example. Let’s say, smoke crack.
Oh you, no you can’t have a hit of my crack pipe. Oh you, yeah, we have permits to smoke this shit. It’s totally fine. All the Mavericks organizers, the rescue teams, and a couple photogs who shoot here all the time can smoke as much crack as we want. We got permits.
Ok, you get my point. If Jet Ski’s are banned, they should be totally banned. No rescue. No saving life’s out there. No bending the law so that certain people can use them. If that’s a problem, then NOAA should lift the ban on Jet Ski’s. Yeah, you guys.
And yeah, something has gotta change about that contest.
I’m not satisfied.