Santa Cruz Surfer Wins Mavericks Surf Contest

Some of the largest swells came in later in the day, with veteran surfer Peter Mel winning the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest.


The waves weren’t the largest ever seen at Mavericks — the biggest faces reached 25 to 30 feet — but that didn’t stop 24 surf competitors from ripping it up today, getting their fill of steep drops and wipeouts and catching some really nice groomed and glassy waves.

In the end, Peter Mel, of Santa Cruz, won first place. He decided to split the $50,000 pot with his six competitors, a Mavericks Invitational tradition.

Mel is a well-known Northern California surfer with nearly a decade's experience surfing Mavericks who helped launch the tow-in surfing movement here, according to competition organizers. He also had a win in August in Pico Alto, Peru, on the second stop of the annual Big Wave World Tour.

Second place was taken by Zach Wormhoudt, third place by Greg Long, fourth
place by Alex Martins, fifth place by Mark Healey, and sixth by Shawn Dollar, organizers said.

Because of inconsistent conditions in the morning heats contest organizers delayed the contest as it reached the third of four opening-round heats.

It took the whole day to finish the contest as thousands of surfing enthusiasts converged at Pillar Point Harbor to watch the event on a big screen.

An estimated 30,000 people traveled to Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point Harbor and Princeton-By-The-Sea to check out the competition at the famed Mavericks break.


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Stuart Nafey January 21, 2013 at 05:35 PM
I arrived at the radar station before sunrise, a dozen surfers already enjoying waves before the contest began. Photographers lined the perimeter fence, perched on platforms, trying to get the best vantage point of the break a half mile out at sea. Over 60 boats floated in a tight weave along side the reef, jockeying for an unobstructed view. The contest started just after 8am with 30 minute heats of 6 surfers, each wearing a different color jersey to help identify them to the judges. The ocean was smooth as glass and then, without warning, the water would rise up and you see a tiny spec of color sliding down the face of the wave. That is when you realize how big these waves are compared to the souls that ride them. There were long periods between sets. The surfers would sit patiently for up to 20 minutes, looking out to a calm sea and enjoying the beautiful weather, followed by a minute of extreme exhilaration, what would only be terror to me, as the waves appeared and crashed with a roar. At the award ceremony, you could see the spirit of the game in the eyes and smiles of the 6 finalists, yet, it was not so much a competition to them, but an experience they share and to show it, they all shared the winnings between them too. It was an honor to cover the event from the bluffs on the warmest day I have seen in Half Moon Bay for a long time. I brought my Nikon D7000 with a 500mm lens and hope I captured just a bit of the awe that is the Mavericks experience.
Stuart Nafey January 21, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Thanks Randy. I shot in manual mode, bouncing between f/4 and f/8 for most of the day with shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/1250. The brightness and contrast changes as the wave breaks, turning blue/green to white. From the bluff, the sun starts behind you in the morning, the earliest shots having a warm yellow glow, and by 2pm, you are shooting directly into the sun's reflection off the water.
Richard January 21, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Fantastic Photos ... ImageAMMO SlideShow ... 3D effect ... Peter Nafey did a fantastic job once again ... Just fun stuff. http://iaws.imageammo.com/share.php?u=32337eaa58b41892322c07839871add6&w=68c62db4a8acfe92e2ca07570324df82
Beatrice Karnes January 22, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Stunning photos!
Stuart Nafey January 22, 2013 at 07:15 AM
Thank you everyone.


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