Stab Magazine | The Maverick's Event Will Not Run On Monday – Peter Mel Explains Why

The Maverick’s Event Will Not Run On Monday – Peter Mel Explains Why

Tuesday and Thursday remain viable options for the BWT. 

news // Dec 15, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The WSL’s Big Wave Tour has gotten off to a rapid start in 2018, already finishing two of their three annual events in the first couple months of the season.

Nazare provided clean walls and an ample amount of peaks for its competitors, leading to an incredible 10-point ride from Spain’s Natxo Gonzales and a major victory for ZAF’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker.

Just two weeks later, a massive swell filtered toward Hawaii and create huge surf at Pe’ahi, so huge, in fact, that despite two decade-defiining rides by Billy Kemper and Grant Baker in the opening hear, the BWT opted to postpone the contest until the significantly smaller second day. Billy Kemper walked away victorious.

Now just three weeks after Jaws, an absolute behemoth of a swell is gaining energy on its way across the Pacific, and it looks perfectly positioned to deliver waves to Maverick’s, the final stop of the 2018/19 BWT season. 

However, according to ABC 7 news in California, this swell might be too big to run the Maverick’s Challenge. 


What a beautiful ledge. Photo: WSL

ABC reports:

Half Moon Bay Sport Fishing, who runs boat tours for the big wave surf contest, told ABC7 News in an e-mail Thursday night that organizers informed them that the contest will not happen Monday.

They did say that organizers are looking at possibly holding the contest on Tuesday or Thursday of next week, and that the organizers would give an update midday on Friday.

Surfline, the official surf forecaster for the Mavericks Challenge, projects that the infamous surf break just outside Pillar Point Harbor will see waves between 40 to 60 feet tall and that some could even be above 65 feet.

Surfline called it “the kind of swell we only see around three times a decade.”

Screen Shot 2018 12 14 at 1.34.55 PM

This is what it looks like.

Stab wanted to know if this was indeed true, so we messaged Maverick’s legend, former Big Wave World Champion, ex-Commissioner and current commentator on the BWT, Mr. Peter Mel, to give us the pertinent info.

Was it true that they wouldn’t run on Monday? And what does it mean for Maverick’s to be “too big”?

“It’s more about the safety of the masses of boats,” Pete told us. “The channel going out of the harbor can close out. It’s really dangerous with bigger boats. Also, the winds are really strong the night before. No time for it to clean up. It’ll be super chunky. Waves breaking outside of the main bowl. They’re super random where they break, so would be very difficult to line one up. If you remember the swell that myself and Chumbo tried to paddle early this year, I tried for several hours to get one, with no luck. It would be very limited waves ridden.  Although, I’m ready to give it a try again if it cleans up.”

The day Pete is referencing, here.

To the arm-chair observer, and there are many of them, it might seem strange and even ironic that the Big Wave Tour has, on multiple occasions, chosen to pass up on certain swells this year because they are “too big”. But “too big” doesn’t quite cover it. There are also winds to take into consideration, surface conditions, operational logistics, and most importantly the safety of any and everyone in the water on the day of competition – that includes boat drivers, spectators, camera men, safety crew, and of course the actual competitors. 

While big wave surfing, as surfing in general, can never be 100% safe, the WSL is doing its best to provide a secure and exciting platform for the world’s best big wave surfers to show their stuff. With real human lives hanging in the balance, it’s never gonna be easy for the WSL to choose the “right” day to run an event – especially when BWT competitors are paddling out anyways on those huge days, regardless of whether the comp is called on or off. 

So, they’re doing their best. And luckily for the WSL, Tuesday and Thursday of the same week look promising to actually run the Maverick’s event. We asked Pete Mel what he thought.

“I like both days. We will have to see. Interval on Thursday seems to last a bit longer through the day. Such a hard call.”

Such is the way of surfing, and big wave surfing in particular. Here’s hoping for that Goldilocks window. 


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