What is Mavericks Invitational? Mavericks Invitational is one of the world’s most hotly contested big wave surf competitions. In fact, each time its run, only 24 elite professional surfers are invited to take part in the California based event. Which is a one-day event held at Half Moon Bay. Which is known for its massive waves. Which have to be seen to be believed!
There is a mystique which surrounds Mavericks Invitational as the 24 carefully selected participants are only given 24 hours notice before their first heat. While event organizers ask their elite field of participants to free up several weeks of their time. The reason being that a winter storm needs to take place, in order for suitably sized waves to be created.
When the conditions are perfect, event organizers give their field 24 hours to prepare themselves for the ride of their lives! In recent years Mavericks Invitational has offered 6 places to professional surfers. While the female division is limited, the competition is fierce, which each woman determined to take home first place.
The first person to successfully surf Half Moon Bay’s monster waves was Jeff Clark, who decided to step up to the challenge in 1975. At the time, Clark, who had studied the bay’s waves for several months, was just 17 years old. While Clark challenged his friends to surf with him, he had to wait 15 years, until he could convince anyone else to tackle Half Moon Bay’s killer monster waves.
The very first competition was held in 1999, with Daryl “Flea” Virostko, taking home the trophy. Between 1999 and 2016, there have only been 10 Maverick surf contests as conditions have to be perfect, for the competition to go ahead. Out of the 10 contests, Californian based Virostko, took home three number one places.
Examples of some well known international surfers who have placed in a Maverick Invitational competition include South African born Grant Baker, who earned two first places as well as a second-place medal, and Brazilian born big wave surfer Carlos Brule.
While the skill that is on display at each Mavericks Invitational event is phenomenal, danger is ever present and unfortunately, several participants have lost their lives chasing glory. An example of which is Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo who wiped out attempting to enter a massive 18-foot wave. Foo disappeared into the froth of the monster wave, which would be the last time which he would be seen alive.
If you’re interested in watching Mavericks Invitational’s superstars tackle some of the largest waves that you’ve ever seen, it pays to make your way to California for the weeks which are listed on Mavericks Invitational’s website. Also make sure to take a pair of binoculars with you, as most of the action will take place at least half a mile from shore.
If you ever get a chance, it’s well worth visiting Half Moon Bay, even if your visit doesn’t coincide with a competition, it’s well worth staring out into the distance to see where some of the world’s most courageous professional surfers fight to take home the Mavericks Invitational tournament.