Surf contest in planning stages

Inside the barrel at Mavericks. Photo courtesy David Grant

Surf fans longing for a return of the Mavericks surf contest will have to wait a bit longer, but organizers are making strides to bring the famous competition back to the Coastside in the winter of 2022-23.

Elizabeth Cresson, a San Francisco resident who has family ties to Half Moon Bay, received a five-year lease to run the event from the California State Lands Commission starting in April 2021. Now, Cresson, under the newly formed Mavericks Ventures LLC, has partnered with event manager and film producer Paul Taublieb.

Last week in a prepared release, the team announced they have no intention of running the contest this season and will shift their efforts to be ready by the 2022-2023 winter. Pillar Point will be closed to the public during the event. In the interim Cresson and Taublieb plan to film content and interviews with surfers and partners to provide a slick streaming package when the event eventually airs online.

Taublieb managed ESPN’s X Games motocross competitions and programming for more than 16 years and has a background in running surf events and producing surf documentaries. He says he’s well aware of the history of turmoil surrounding the contest. The organizers of the last Mavericks contest, Cartel Management, filed for bankruptcy in 2017. The World Surf League took over the rights in 2017 but never ran a contest during its three-year agreement.

“We know there’s been a history with challenges, but we’re starting with a fresh slate for the benefit of the surfers, the town and fans of big wave surfing around the world,” Cresson added.

Gender equity was a new requirement from the state to secure the permit, and Cresson and Taublieb plan to see a field of 12 men and 12 women competing in gendered divisions and receiving the same amount of prize money. Where those funds will come from remains to be seen, but they said they’re in conversation with potential sponsors.

“My goal is to give the wave the global platform it deserves while giving surfers – men and women, local surfers and those from around the world – a stage to demonstrate their extraordinary abilities,” said Cresson in a prepared statement. “In tandem, this event supports Half Moon Bay in celebrating its core values of conservation, equity, and small business stewardship.”

The press release states that there will be a panel of local surfers and experts to unanimously decide who will be able to compete. However, Cresson and Taublieb note that they’re looking into a possible alternative format that would allow more local surfers to surf at the same time as the other official invitees.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to take our passion for big events and big waves and combine that with our storytelling skills and work with Elizabeth to bring her vision to life,” said Taublieb.

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

(1) comment

John Charles Ullom

The Wave refuses to be equitably profited from. So many friendships have ended because of the desire to score a buck from the wave.

The Wave has destroyed the lives and reputations all who have tried to commercialize it. Ask the long list of grifters, self anointed hero's, and their spouses who have attempted to fiscally tame it. The wave eats up the relationships of those who would exploit it, and spits them out.

The Wave owes nobody a living. Like Jeff Clark often says, "The Wave will take care of itself."

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