The Mavericks Invitational is one of the top big-wave surfing contests in the world, and 24 of the best surfers in the sport will vie for the opportunity to win the prestigious competition on Jan. 24.
Mavericks has taken place in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on and off since 1999, and it always seems to come down to the wire regarding whether or not it will happen due to environmental factors.
That was the case for the 2014 edition as well, but the Mavericks Invitational official Twitter account announced on Jan. 22 that all systems are go:
According to Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, the potential presence of southerly winds nearly forced the cancellation of the event, but contest director Jeff Clark decided that the conditions would be conducive to a good competition. Said Clark:
There was a low-pressure system over Central California that was forecast to give us south winds, but that system disappeared. We're looking at (favorable) light offshore winds now, along with the big swell we know is coming. This is the best we could hope for.
As Clark pointed out, a substantial swell is needed for the Mavericks Invitational to live up to its reputation as well. The waves can reach up to 60 feet in height at the Mavericks, per Jenkins, which makes for an awesome atmosphere, as seen in this video courtesy of the Mavericks Invitational on Twitter:
So much buzz right now about this week's giant swell! So what does it take to make it a contest-worthy swell?... http://t.co/7vmv2zhSSm— Mavericks (@Mavericks_Inv) January 21, 2014
The Mavericks Invitational returned in 2013 after a two-year hiatus, and it appears as though it is back to stay for good. Here is an in-depth look at when and where to catch all the action, as well as which world-class surfers will have a chance to come away victorious.
Where: Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
When: Friday, Jan. 24
Time: 11 a.m. ET
TV Info: Universal Sports Network (coverage starts at 4:30 p.m. ET)
|Grant Baker||South Africa|
|Chris Bertish||South Africa|
Surfers to Watch
After years of near misses and top-five finishes, Peter Mel finally broke through with a Mavericks Invitational victory last year at the age of 43. Mel is widely considered one of the greatest surfers of all time, but a win at the Mavericks was one of the biggest missing accomplishments on his resume. Some were starting to wonder whether he would ever win one, but he came through with a huge performance, as seen in this video:
Mel is known as one of the good guys in surfing, and he furthered that reputation in 2013 by sharing his $12,000 winnings with his fellow finalists, according to TransWorld SURF. It seems to be about the thrill of competition more than the money for Mel, and that makes him a big-time contender once again this year.
When asked about the potential conditions for the event on Twitter, Mel offered a response that should have surfing fans excited:
@kinneytimes very impressive and scary big— Peter Mel (@peter_mel) January 23, 2014
If anyone can handle a "scary big" swell, it is certainly Mel. He may be getting up there in years, but he possesses more experience than essentially anyone in the field, and he is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Who will win the 2014 Mavericks Invitational?
Another surfer with a Mavericks win under his belt is South Africa's Chris Bertish. In fact, Bertish was victorious in the most lucrative Mavericks Invitational of all time when he took home $50,000 in 2010, according to Jason Murray and Jake Howard of ESPN.com.
It was unclear if Bertish would even make the trip for that event due to monetary issues, but he has since established himself as one of the premier surfers in the world. What a difference four years makes, as Bertish decided to make the trip from South Africa this year even before organizers officially announced the contest was on, as he posted on Twitter:
Game on and I'm out of here! Trusting in what you don't know & leaving it up to fate sometimes is a great way to fly pic.twitter.com/4e4RHC7b20— Chris Bertish (@chris_bertish) January 22, 2014
Few surfers are able to tame giant swells like Bertish, so there is no question that he will be among the top contenders once again this year. He'll have to overcome plenty of other great surfers, but coming through in 2010 seemed to do a ton for Bertish's confidence.
Perhaps no surfer has had more success at the Mavericks Invitational over the years than Grant "Twiggy" Baker. The South African star won the event back in 2006, and he followed that up with a second-place finish in 2008. The competition has only been held twice since then, so it seems like a long time since Baker was last a factor, but make no mistake—he will find himself in the mix.
Baker may very well be the preeminent big-wave surfer in the world, so this event plays right into his strengths. Every surfer in the field has a legitimate chance to prevail, but Baker knows the winning formula, as evidenced by this video of his 2006 performance:
With so many hungry competitors in the field who have yet to win the Mavericks Invitational, Baker and other past winners will have their hands full. Based on Baker's body of work, though, there is reason to believe he can emerge triumphant.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter