By Taylor Paul
It’ll be held in the true spirit of Jay Moriarty, and his spirit will hopefully resonate throughout the event from now on.
“I heard the surfers got the contest,” three-time Mavericks champ Flea Virostiko tells me while we chat in Lighhouse Field across from Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. “It’s exciting to have the contest after it’s been run by idiots that don’t f–king surf [Mavericks Surf Ventures]; guys who are just in it for the money. That’s not what its about. So now that we got it back I’m psyched.”
While Flea pretty much nailed most contestants’ feelings about the contest, I thought I’d talk to a key player in gaining control over the contest, Frank Quirarte. Frank’s a long time Mavericks photographer and lifesaver and nice person. As we watched Pete Mel’s final heat of the Coldwater Classic, Frank explained the significance of the change..
SURFING Magazine: How are things going to be different now that it’s the surfers and not Maverick’s Surf Ventures running the contest?
Frank Quirarte: First and foremost there’s a management change. And we’ll get back to the soul of the event and the true spirit of big-wave surfing. We’re not selling anything, you know? We’re not selling anything related to it so it’s not a motivation for us anymore so we can focus solely on the event. Safety is going to be huge. I mean, not that safety was ignored, but there wasn’t enough emphasis on it before. We’re going to really focus on that and have people whose only job is keeping things safe.
On the beach and in the water?
On the beach, in the water, and on the cliffs. Everywhere. We’re going to cover every aspect of safety that needs to be covered.
They say it’s now in the hands of the surfers. What does that mean?
Well, now the surfers, and the surfers who represent them, will be planning the entire event alongside the community and the government agencies that are part of the mix as well. It’s no longer in the hands of a corporation. The sole control is in the hands of the surfers and the surfers’ group.
Who is the surfers’ group?
The surfers group is five people: Grant Washburn, Peter Mel, Doug Acton, myself, and Kim Moriarty. There’re a lot of different elements to the event now, so it might get confusing for some people…
Well let’s clear some shit up right here.
[Laughs] Yeah, the surfers’ group represents the surfers past and present. The event will now include all the surfers that were ever A-list competitors, and they’ll be celebrated a lot more than they were in the past. They won’t just surf the contest, not make a heat and be forgotten. They will be celebrated throughout the year and on the websites and at parties, and stuff like that. And of course they’ll be a part of the group that votes in new competitors every year. So that’s pretty huge. It’s them and only them.
Who voted people in before?
It’s not really clear who it was before just…whoever. There wasn’t an official body of people who voted guys in or out. There was a competitor list and an alternate list that was put together by…nobody knows. Osmosis maybe. But it’s not going to be like that anymore, it’s going to be organized.
What’s it called?
It’s called The Jay at Maverick’s Big Wave Invitational and held in the true spirit of Jay Moriarty, one of our big influences and best friends and brothers out at Mavericks. And his spirit will hopefully resonate throughout the event from now on. Jay was pure stoke.
Where is the money going to go from the contest?
It’s going to be a non-profit. In the past, people were getting big payouts; that’s not going to happen anymore. People will have jobs to do and they’ll get paid for it. The sponsors will put up enough money to cover the event and if there is any profit, some of it will go to charities. There’s no money set aside for charity so to speak, but they’ll be able to make money from it; we’ll be able to raise money for those charities.
But there’s nobody throwing a bunch of money into the pot, and everybody reaches in and grabs it. Every dollar will be accounted for, and that’s all going to be managed by Darren [Brilhart], who’s doing [the Coldwater Classic] right here. His company will manage the dollars and cents of the event. He’ll be writing the checks. And everyone — you know, in the past it was a big issue — from the vendors to the surfers to the judges, will be paid on time, as close to the contest date as possible, if not before.