Though the Mavericks surf contest has been on hold since 2016 due to political infighting and logistical challenges, some on the Coastside are preparing for another kind of surf contest this upcoming winter.
The Mavericks Surf Awards, in collaboration with Sea Hugger, is set to host a 2021 Mavericks Festival at Pillar Point Harbor to raise prize money for the next season-long video competition. The first Mavericks Surf Awards concluded with a virtual show in May honoring surfers and their best rides from the previous winter season.
The event is scheduled to run at the parking lot near Johnson Pier on Oct. 30. At the San Mateo County Harbor District’s June 16 meeting, the board agreed to waive 80 percent, or $9,440, of the event’s permit fees. That leaves the applicants to pay $2,360 to host the event.
The normal cost for the district’s Special Event Permit totals $11,800, which includes a $5,000 application fee and a $6,800 permit fee. General Manager Jim Pruett said the event aligned with the district’s goals because it emphasizes ocean safety and environmental protection while promoting local tenants, businesses and restaurants. There will also be a section of the event designated for water safety agencies like the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire.
The Mavericks Surf Awards will receive 90 percent of the net proceeds from the festival while Sea Hugger will get 10 percent.
“I’m thrilled that Mavericks has found a way to continue celebrating our local big-wave surf contest as well as the athletes who surf it,” said Harbor Commissioner Nancy Reyering. “I believe it will benefit our community, and I appreciate the event will address water safety and environmental protection.”
The event will be in the same location as the annual Fish and Fleet Festival, which in years past has benefit from discounted fees as well. The Mavericks fundraiser will include many of the same amenities with live music and food vendors. Commission President Virginia Chang Kiraly said she favored the festival because it would bring in additional business to other tenants at Pillar Point Harbor.
“I think this is a good first step to the recovery efforts on the coast,” she said.
Commissioner Ed Larenas did not believe the board should give the discount as the event is in coordination with the Mavericks Surf Awards, a for-profit LLC. He noted the district hiked slip rates and Commercial Activities Permits for its tenants. It is also mulling a new fee for fishermen who sell their catch from their boats at the harbor. But the main reason for his “no” vote, Larenas said, was because of the equity disparities between male and female surfers.
“Equity in prize money and access for women to the Mavericks surf contest was only achieved after years of having these contests in play when the Coastal Commission and State Land Commission made it a condition of their permits,” Larenas said.
In place of no permitted contest after the World Surf League opted out in 2019, Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark and local entrepreneur Chris Cuvelier created the Mavericks Surf Awards to run a season-long video-oriented contest based on submitted clips. Last year’s contest had a $25,000 prize purse for five award winners. The categories included the top Male and Female Performer of the Year, Biggest Wave, Best Barrel and Ride of the Year. Both Peter Mel and Justine Dupont, the best overall performers, were given an equal prize purse for the award. Larenas said the event still discriminates against women because the number of male finalists and winners still outweighed their female competitors.
Meanwhile, if there is a more traditional surf contest at Mavericks, it is likely to be under new management and go in a new direction. In December, Elizabeth Cresson, a 22-year-old woman with Coastside ties, received a five-year lease from State Lands Commission to run an event at Mavericks. Cresson, who owns Mavericks Ventures, LLC and is not involved with the October fundraiser, has a priority in mind: to include an equal number of competitors and prize money for men and women.