2012 Mavericks Surf Competition

(January 20th, 2013)

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On January 20th, 2013 a few of us chartered a boat (for fun, we're just tourists) with a captain to go out and watch the Mavericks Surfing Invitational 2013 competition.  Some of the best big wave surfers in the world come on short notice for this which occurs at the Mavericks Surf Break off Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, California.  The boat we chartered was the "Mooch Better" with Captain Duane Winter (nickname "Dew") and crew Mike and Dave.  Below are tons of pictures, click on any picture for the highest quality "original".


We met up at "The Princeton Pantry" in Pillar Point Harbor Half Moon Bay.  (Notice the tiny little sign that says "Bait and Switch Sport Fishing" - we booked the boat through them.)


We ran into Jeremy and Jerome who are going out in a different boat than us to watch the same competition.


Bloody Marys in the morning for the ladies.  Left to right that is Tania Stoose, Petra Bengtsson, Marlies Tallman, Katherine Chung on far right.  Not shown: Jim and Brian (me).


Pillar Point Harbor, our boat is down this access ramp.


And here is our boat, the "Mooch Better".  Mooch Better is a 1978 37-foot Hatteras Convertible that is equipped with a galley, full bathroom with shower, and sleeps 6 comfortably.  There are two crew members (Mike and Dave) in addition to Captain Dew.


Getting ready for us.


And away we go, that is Tania and Jim getting settled in on the flying bridge.


Putting out of the harbor, picture taken from the flying bridge.


We are still in the harbor, but we're not going far -> just offshore of the "hill" you see in the distance near the center of the picture below with the large white "ball" on top (the "ball" is a military radar station on Pillar Point).


Captain Dew (Duane Winter) is at the wheel.  The local sheriff and coast guard people knew him by nickname (Dew) and he handled the boat exceptionally well, probably because he takes customers sport fishing every day.


A helicopter passing over our heads on the way out to the Mavericks Surfing Competition.


We are still inside the breakwater but just outside the main harbor, you can see the Pillar Point Air Force Radar Station (big white ball) on top of Pillar Point, and the Mavericks surf break is right at the end of that point.


We catch a glimpse of some big waves and the competition.


"GoPro" is an EXCELLENT tiny high definition sports camera taking the world by storm right now, they were helping sponsor the Mavericks event in 2013.  They are also based in Half Moon Bay (the closest town to this event).  Surfing with a GoPro camera is pretty cool, click here to watch some YouTube footage of Mark Healey at Mavericks.  Below is the GoPro boat at the event.


Ok, here we are at the competition.  The way this works is that if we stay BEHIND the big fluffy white "GoPro" buoy we are completely safe and the huge waves will not "break" here.  If we go any closer, we probably die a horrible death smashed, crushed, and ground into little pieces by some of the largest waves in the world.   :-)   So Captain Dew stays behind the buoy. 


A close up of the GoPro buoy.  The buoy looks like a face to me (the two black handles look like eyes).  I should post it to http://www.reddit.com/r/pareidolia for fun.


This shows the same buoy with a view back towards land (Pillar Point is the outcropping cliff area with the Radar white ball on it).  Notice a few spectators are out on sea kayaks, all big boats and spectators stay BEHIND the buoy, and the actual competitor surfers and the safety jetski team are out in the crazy land of big waves over there.


Below is a 7 minute movie stitched together from footage I recorded at Mavericks 2013 Surfing Competition.  This is REALLY SHAKY, I was on a boat that was moving and being hit by waves, and freehanding the camera, and filming with a LOT of zoom.  Also, I'm a clumsy dork.  :-)  The point here is the surfers are amazing athletes and the waves are gigantic, and my camera work is terrible.   Click here for a super high quality QuickTime version (will only play on a Macintosh!)


Ok, the next 39 pictures are single frames grabbed from movies I took with my camera.  These are presented in time order, and are the best "surfing" pictures I have, so I thought I'd get to it.  Below is the semi-finals, and I'm not sure who this surfer is?


Same surfer as above, almost in the barrel.


In the semi-finals at about 11:25am on January 20, 2013, below are three surfers who catch the same wave.


Four surfers in the semi-finals of the 2013 Mavericks surf competition.


Below shows what the jet skis are doing at Mavericks.  The jet ski swooped in, and right before the wave killed this surfer, the surfer grabbed a hold of the sled.  The jet ski guns the motor and they outrun the wave until it dies down (in the picture below the wave has died down, but they are hauling across the water staying in front of it).


Below I think this is Shawn Dollar in the semi-finals, but I'm not absolutely sure.  Notice him dragging his hand as he surfs?  Very cool.


I think this is Shawn Dollar surfing in the semi-finals at the 2013 Mavericks Invitational.


The picture below was taken at 12:29pm, January 20th, 2013 at the Mavericks surfing competition.  I think this is Shawn Dollar in the barrel.


In any one heat or semi-final or final, there are only six surfers.  Below there are SEVEN surfers in the picture, and duplicate colors.  I believe this is the change over between the two semi-finals at the Mavericks 2013 surf competition.


There are two surfers and a BIRD in the picture below (the black thing between the surfers is flying by).


Same two surfers a few moments later. 


I think this is still the semi finals, probably the second one of two semi-final rounds.  If you know who the surfer is please email me:


I believe this is the field (see below) as we enter the finals at about 2pm, I think these are the colors and the identities of the surfers.  Please email me if you know different!!  From now on the colors of the surfer in Mavericks 2013 are keyed by the colors shown below.  Also notice the water is super flat.  :-)  We had to wait for a bit before the surf picked up again.


Alex Martins on the left in yellow and Shawn Dollar on the right in green at 1:07pm January 20th, 2013 at Mavericks:


Below Shawn Dollar in green cuts back towards the wave as some professional photographers on a jetski film it.


A few moments later Shawn Dollar "in the barrel" at Mavericks 2013.


Below is a picture of Alex Martins in the finals at 1:14pm, January 20th, 2013 at the Mavericks surfing competition.


A reminder that this is what is called "small" by Mavericks standards, 2013 was a very "small" year.  Most mortal men would drown in that insanity behind Alex Martin in yellow.  The avalanche of water on the left of the picture is tons and tons of water.


Below Peter Mel (the eventual winner of 2013 Mavericks Surf Competition) slides down a wave effortlessly in the finals.


Peter Mel won the 2013 Mavericks Surfing Competition, here is GoPro camera footage (this is not mine!) that was taken of his surfing:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmuc_caVA54


Below is Peter Mel at 2:11pm on January 20th, 2013 at the Mavericks 2013 surfing competition.  Peter is cutting back up to the surfable area of the wave, ignoring the impending death and destruction of the colossus washing machine behind him.


Notice that Peter Mel has a blue/white Yin and Yang pattern on his surfboard, I can only assume it lets him stay calm on these rides?


Below Shawn Dollar surfs just outside a wall of whitewater the size of a 7 story building.


Below is Greg Long in the finals at Mavericks 2013.  He's picking up a little speed here because he's running from his own death.


Below is Greg Long carving on his surfboard at 2:14pm on January 20th, 2013 at the Mavericks surf competition.


Greg Long again.


Below is a picture of Greg Long as a freight train of water overtakes him.  He's still up, but a couple seconds later he took the big tumble for life (and survived).


Below is Alex Martins in yellow in the Mavericks 2013 finals.


Zach Wormhoudt in orange is catching what he calls a wave, I call it a vertical wall of ice cold liquid crazy.


That Niagara Falls dumping a zillion tons of water is chasing Zach Wormhoudt on a surfboard at 20 miles per hour.  It's chilling to watch these waves, because twenty seconds later the ocean will be flat at this spot as if it is safe to be there.


Below is Mark Healey in red top and yellow legs in the finals at the 2013 Mavericks Surfing competition.  You can see the line Mark just carved, it's beautiful.


Two seconds later another picture of Mark Healey's amazing carve.  I like the reflection of his surfboard in the water below it.


That's Greg Long, cheating a watery death by being just fast enough on a surfboard.


I pulled the next two pictures out of a movie I took, they are about half a second apart.  The first one below shoes Greg Long surfing over a little bump of water and starting to go airborne.


Below is half a second later as Greg is now COMPLETELY AIRBORNE, his feet aren't even touching the surfboard anymore.  He just lands this and surfs away like it's a walk in the park.


Below is Alex Martins catching a wave on his surfboard (in yellow) as Shawn Dollar paddles out to get the next one.


Below Alex martins at 2:55pm on January 20th, 2013 in the finals of the Mavericks 2013 surfing competition.


Let me take a second to describe why the picture below is possible.  The black scaffolding is on the "judges boat" and the boat on the right says "Mavericks Invitational".  I'm calming filming this and they are floating there watching it and you might be asking yourself why we all aren't turning tail and running at top speed for our lives?  This is the magic of the Mavericks Surf Break, where there is a well known dividing line between "completely safe never gets even the slightest wave" and "your boat is pulverized by some of the largest waves in the world".  During the competition, they anchor a buoy on the line, and we stay behind it.  But Alex Martins is on the other side of the buoy, he's hanging out in pulverize town.


Below Shawn Dollar catches a wave at 3:01pm in the finals at the 2013 Mavericks Invitational.  (The metal rack in the lower right of the picture is the front of a Coast Guard boat getting all up in the way of my pictures.)


Zach Wormhoudt surfing in orange catches the very final wave of the day I get on film, the competition is over.


Ok, FROM HERE ON DOWN the pictures are really really boring, without much surfing.  These are just pictures of the boats surrounding the competition, and my friends and I having lunch, and what-not.  Please stop reading here if you were just here for the surfing!

There are A LOT of Coast Guard boats of various sizes and shapes, plus some Pillar Point Harbor patrol craft (including rescue jetskis), and a few Sheriff boats around.  Below is a picture of the USCGC Sockeye, an 87' coast guard "cutter", traditionally these are used for search and rescue.  The Sockeye below has two Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns mounted on the forward deck in case it has to defend itself against (something?)  


In addition to the above 87' cutter, the Coast Guard was representing with not one but TWO of the "47' Motor Lifeboat" below.  That SOUNDS like a wimpy name, but these are sincerely tough boats.  They are completely made out overbuilt, reinforced aircraft aluminum, and they are designed for the worst hurricanes and storms.  This thing is so bad-ass that it can be rolled upside down UNDER WATER and it will automatically "right" itself within 10 seconds and the ENGINE WILL NOT QUIT and NOTHING WILL BREAK. 


To add to the Coast Guard's massive presence at the Maverick's Surf Competition, this "Tupperware Dolphin" helicopter (also known as "Tupperwolf") is flying around.  This is a Europcopter HH-65 Dolphin which is a helicopter coated in plastic to help it survive a marine environment.  Very cool, but it is clear the Coast Guard likes it's equipment expensive and high tech.


Probably the most useful Coast Guard boat out there is the least expensive inflatable one below.  I'm intrigued by the "chairs", they are saddles they straddle, probably very safe and solid.


The opposite of the Coast Guard's expensive high tech toy collection are the "Pillar Point Rescue Team" on Jetskis below.  These guys do an alarmingly dangerous job with least expensive equipment out there.  They are CRITICAL to the survival of the surfers if anything goes wrong, which at Mavericks is not an "if" but "how often".  I've heard the job postings for their team say they look for people with a lack of personal survival instinct coupled with the compulsion to help others, to enjoy going where no sane person would ever want to be, with nerves of steel and quick reaction times a big plus.   Click here to see a movie of the 2010 Mavericks Jetski rescue team saving surfer's lives.


Picture below of the "Pillar Point Marina Harbor Patrol" boat, also floating around out there. 


Just because there aren't enough jurisdictions already being represented, the Sheriff's boat below was busy doing Sheriff things. At least the Sheriff boat doesn't look as expensive and ridiculously useless on this day as the 5 Coast Guard air and sea vehicles.


A view from a distance of the cluster of boats near the Mavericks surfing competition.


A tiny little "Robinson R22 Helicopter" with registration number N622SA was buzzing around, the occupant was filming the event.  This helicopter is from Capitola, California (about 30 miles away).  In the close up picture below you can see the guy is holding a camera.


The picture below is taken later in the day with the helicopter hovering very close over the large crashing waves in the Mavericks 2013 Surfing Competition.


The little tiny Robinson R22 Helicopter buzzing around in the sky.


Captain Dew in black shirt piloting our boat, seems like a man with experience.  The incredibly overbuilt rough water Coast Guard cutter behind him is piloted by what looked like a pack of 20 year old children mostly watching the competition.  I'd rather be on Captain Dew's boat.  :-)


This boat is a "Barracuda Networks" boat.  Barracuda Networks makes high tech anti-spam (block junk email) appliances.  They were big sponsors of a separate Mavericks event a previous year (maybe 2011?) that failed to materialize, but maybe they are sponsoring a surfer in this 2013 competition?  That pile of surf boards must be for one of the competitors.


The view up the side of our boat of all the spectator boats floating around waiting for the waves to pick up.  There were 10 minute flat periods where nothing happened.


There are big and small boats just out to be spectators.  We all go in this little circle that takes about 10 minutes to circle through, in this way none of us drop anchor and everybody gets a "front row seat" for a few minutes out of every 10 minute span.  Below is a small Livingston Catamaran (maybe a LV16?) with 80 hp outboard engine.


The competing surfers wear bright colors, there are always 6 surfers in every heat with different colors on.


I think this is Mark Healey below on the green surfboard coming back from the end of a heat.


The surfer (standing in red) at the edge of big whitewater from a wave that is "small" by Maverick's standards.  You can see all the boats watching him surf, it's pretty neat that the boats can be right up this close and still know they are safe.


Another picture of the Barracuda Networks boat, they must be here supporting a competitive surfer.


I can't quite recognize which competitor this is coming back to the boat?  If you know, email me at:


Marlies knew this guy on the jetski? 


This is what I called the "Judge's Boat", I think Jeff Clark is on this boat (he organizes the Mavericks Invitational Surfing Competition we are watching).  Jeff might be the guy in the brimmed hat near the bow of the boat?


This is another picture (taken much later) of the same "judge's boat" from the back.


The Tupperware Dolphin circles through every few minutes.


A few boats, a helicopter, and some surfers.


Random closeup of the little helicopter.


In the middle of the day, this remote control little 12 inch tall red and yellow surfing toy started buzzing around.


Here is a super close-up picture of the toy, it says "Kyosho" on it.


I found the box below on the internet which identifies this product as a "RC Surfer Lisa by company Kyosho".  Pretty cool little toy, I guess it is a collector's item now.


Below you can see RC Surfer Lisa buzzing around at Maverick's surfing competition.


This is one of the semi finals, I wish I could identify the surfers in this picture based on their colors.  They are all waiting for waves, it got pretty flat around noon-2pm.


The guy on the left in the boots is a crew member, Katherine is leaning on the railing, the water is flat, no surfing, so I'm taking pictures of random stuff.  :-)


The weather was nice enough that this spectator decided to wear a bikini to watch the surfing.


Another picture of the woman in a bikini at the 2013 Mavericks Surfing competition.


Below is a picture of Katherine at the bow of our boat as the waves pick up and the surfers compete.


This is the judge's boat again, this time surrounded by other boats working the Mavericks 2013 competition.


Tania brought sandwiches for everybody, which turned out to be a GREAT idea because the competition took four hours longer than it was supposed to take and I would have starved.  Here she is making us lunch on the bow of the boat.


Our friends Jerome and Jeremy and others in their boat.


A professional surfer in the competition (don't know his name??) prepares.


As far as I can tell, the surfer in the grey cap is eating a bar of wax.  :-)   Maybe it is food of some kind, or maybe he is holding it for a second as he does something else.


A surfer in the competition fixes his boots.


Our whole group on the bow of our boat.  There is a lull in the waves, so we're killing time, eating sandwiches, hanging out.


Another picture of one of the US Coast Guard 47' Motor Lifeboat.  One of it's features is the very low "well" on the side that is very close to the waterline.  This allows them to bend down and grab a person or item out of the surf.


In the picture below, the young captain of the coast guard vessel is distracted by watching the surfing and is about to run into us (slowly, it wouldn't have caused much damage even if we did hit, we're all putting along pretty slowly).  Our captain did a quick bit of maneuvering and got out of his way, and the Coast guard captain woke back up and helped a small amount too.


The two women sitting on pink surfboard completely mystify me.  I *THINK* they are "booth babes" and cannot even surf.  They just sat there floating near the GoPro buoy for hours.  Also, women are forbidden from competing in Mavericks (which I disagree with, if you are good enough you should be allowed to surf).


A close up of the two random women on pink surfboards at the 2013 Mavericks Surfing competition.  If you know their story please email me! 


Our friend Mike, hi Mike!  Didn't know he was out here.


Tania moving from the stern to the bow of the boat with a big smile.


Ok, this confused me also.  Here is another woman who absolutely did not compete, but she did jump in and paddle a surf board around.  This MIGHT be "Bri Chmel"?  If anybody can verify that, please email me, and explain why she was here?


This is the boat Bri Chmel was on.


Here is Bri Chmel (?maybe?) paddling around out past the GoPro buoy (near the rescue jetskis).  They eyed her nervously but didn't stop her -> remember, women are prohibited from competing at Mavericks.


This guy has a steadicam mount for his Canon camera.  The videos I took were a train wreck of shaking, this was probably a good idea.


Jeremy and Jerome's boat again.


This guy in the super bright yellow inflatable boat is holding a tiny little GoPro camera to "film" the event.


The surfing is actually several hundred yards offshore.  If the surfers at Mavericks don't turn away in time (or are tumbled by a wave), they get pummelled into the jagged rocks you see getting whitewater splashes all around them.  The jetskis are there to help prevent that from happening, or just help in general.  We watched one jetski go in among the rocks and retrieve a runaway surfboard, but in general this wasn't very big waves by Mavericks standards and very little got out of control.


It's hard to get the perspective, but these are really powerful waves (even if they are small for this area) and they are pummeling these rocks. 


Two surfers paddle into the same one wave as it starts.  The "judges boat" looks on.


A pelican!


The GoPro boat has a large *non* GoPro camera on it, and what looks like a sound man?


Helicopters, boats, crashing waves, surfers, what could go wrong?


Here the helicopter goes lower.


The helicopter is really low over these waves!


As we enter the finals at about 2pm, I think these are the colors and the identities of the surfers.  Please email me if you know different!!


Tania, Petra, Marlies, and Katherine going round and round on this boat in a little circle in the precession of spectators watching Mavericks 2013 surfing competition.


Jim on the fly bridge taking pictures.


A ton of huge jellyfish floated by us, some about 3 or 4 feet long.   It's hard to get good pictures of them.


The jelly fish float by.


Waves pick up and the competition comes to an end.


Here we are motoring on back to harbor after a nice afternoon.


Petra and the crew (Mike and Dave).


Peter Mel is the guy in the red wetsuit on the back of this jetski.  Peter is from Santa Cruz (30 miles away) and just won the 2013 Mavericks Invitational Surfing competition.


The ladies are swooning over Peter Mel because he is dreamy and came into the harbor at the same time as our boat.


The day is over, thanks Captain Dew!


That's it!


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