On just 24 hours notice between January 1, 2009 and March 31, 2009, 24 of the world’s best big-wave surfers will make the trek to Half Moon Bay, home of Mavericks, one of the most majestic and infamous surf breaks on Earth. There, they will test their individual skills and vie for the highly sought-after 2009 Mavericks Surf Contest® title. Competitors will face the dangerous elements of the frigid northern California waters in search of the perfect ride on waves reaching heights of 30 to 40 feet or more.

Contest Director and Mavericks Founder Jeff Clark has announced that the official Contest window will open on January 1. “We are all stoked to be back for another year,” said Clark.  “No matter what else is going on in the world, Mavericks will be here. The season looks promising, as we’ve already seen some major swells roll through Half Moon Bay.  The perfect contest day we’re looking for will bring a northwest groundswell between 18 and 20 feet (translating into waves faces of 30- to 40-feet) and perfect conditions for the surfers, judges and spectators.”

The contestants receive the green light alert and have just 24 hours to arrive for the event.  The international roster of invited surfers consists of, in alphabetical order: Matt Ambrose, Ben Andrews, Grant Baker, Ion Banner, Chris Bertish, Carlos Burle, Kenny Collins, Shane Desmond, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little, Greg Long, Josh Loya, Peter Mel, Shawn Rhodes, Ryan Seelbach, Evan Slater, Tyler Smith, Jamie Sterling, Anthony Tashnick, Darryl Virostko, Grant Washburn, Dave Wassell, Tim West, Zach Wormhoudt.

Also named were the 15 alternates, in order of priority: Alex Martins, Danilo Couto, Mark Healey, Tyler Fox, Rusty long, Nic Lamb, Jamie Mitchell, Mike Gerhardt, Russell Smith, Kealii Mamala, Garrett McNamara, Andrew Marr, Lawton Smith, John Whittle, Colin Dwyer.

This year, the invitees will compete for an exciting $75,000 prize purse personally funded by Mavericks benefactors Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision. The purse breakdown awards $30,000 for first place, $12,000 for second place, $7,500 for third place, $3,500 for fourth, $2,500 for fifth and $1,500 for sixth place.

Contest sponsors include Jim Beam® Bourbon, Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, Clif Bar & Co., the Bay Club, The Corporate Law Group, Vertical Response, Surfer Magazine, Sam’s Chowder House,, Capture Technologies, and Jeff Clark Surfboards.


Surfboard sold for a record R17,000 in South Africa

Despite tough economic times, a local surfer has taken a plunge of a financial kind by purchasing a surfboard for R17,000. This was no ordinary board, however, it was a two metre "wavescape" meticulously decorated by underground comic artist Andy Mason.

This board was sold for a record R17,000
Mason, a surfer himself, was participating in a surfboard auction where comedian and part-time auctioneer Mark Sampson raised a record amount of R125,000, the proceeds of which go to the NSRI and Shark Spotters in the third edition of the Wavescapes Surfboard Art Exhibition and charity auction.

The event, a subsidiary fund-raising inititative to the main Wavescapes Surf Film Festival, is the brainchild of Spike as a way of generating much-needed funds for the NSRI and shark spotters, who have received more than R120,000 from sales of the boards over the years. The auction also serves as a platform to make a collective artistic statement, and for the artists to gain recognition. The result is a great publicity vehicle for the main film festival, and a way of assisting the Save our Seas Foundation in getting its message across to millions of media consumers.

A stunned Mason said he was "rendered speechless" by the amount of money paid by avid surfboard art collector Glen Thompson, who is an historian and bought the last two ND Mazin boards in 2005 and 2006. The amount Thompson bid for the 7' 2" egg, which is based on a Donald Takayama design and shaped by Greg Stokes, is believed to be the highest ever paid in South Africa for a surfboard decorated by an artist.

The event, held at the VEO Gallery in de Waterkant, also served as the launch of the Wavescapes Surf Film festival, which kicks off this evening at Clifton Fourth Beach at 9pm. Entrance is free.

A fresh southeaster is not expected to reach into the calm waters of Clifton Beach, where shark conservationists, led by the head of the Save our Seas Shark Centre in Kalk Bay, Lesley Rochat, will be handing out a shark documentary DVD and free keyrings with emergency numbers for recreational ocean users "just in case".

The project is a collaboration with the City of Cape Town to raise awareness about sharks and arm beachgoers and surfers with information that assists them.


Stephanie Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, newly-crowned two-time ASP Women’s World Champion, defeated Melanie Bartels (HAW), 26, to claim the her second consecutive Billabong Pro Maui in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves on offer at Ho’okipa Beach Park, earning the young Australian her first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (an ASP Specialty Series) Title.

The final event of the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Billabong Pro Maui opted for the relocation this morning from Honolua Bay to Ho’okipa Beach Park (the first relocation in the event’s 10-year history) in order take advantage of the swell on offer, and the action didn’t disappoint.

Gilmore opened the Final strong, posting a solid 7.33 out of a possible 10, but Bartels put her in the corner with two solid scores of her own. In an exciting exchange that saw the Hawaiian pull ahead on the first wave, Gilmore answered back with the highest score of the day, a 9.57 out of a possible 10 to retake the lead, immediately following it up with an 8.03 for a massive forehand turn combination. Bartels was unable to answer back.

“The tide ped and the conditions got really fun,” Gilmore said. “Mel (Bartels) is one of my favorite surfers and I just go as hard as I can when I draw her in a heat. You can’t put in a performance at half-speed and I saw her get a solid wave so I just went for broke on the next one and it paid off.”

The win marks the first Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Title for the prodigious natural-footer, an accolade considered second only to the ASP Women’s World Title.

“It feels incredible to win the Vans Triple Crown Title,” Gilmore said. “We had really fun waves at Haleiwa and then solid surf at Sunset Beach and we had a beautiful opening day of competition at Honolua Bay before finishing today at Ho’okipa. It’s a real honor to be considered a good surfer in Hawaii and in such a variety of conditions.”

Gilmore will now head home to Australia to rest and recharge for the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour, and with two ASP Women’s World Titles, a Vans triple Crown Title and 11 elite tour victories under her belt (five in 2008 alone), the makings of an icon are well within place.