A few times every year many of the most devoted and passionate big wave surfers from around the world congregate and celebrate the activity we all love. Under the baking heat of about as nice a fall day as Half Moon Bay sees, the elite Maverick's crew re-acquainted themselves with one another at the opening ceremony of this year's Maverick's contest. It's an event that somewhat informally kicks off the winter, and puts Mav's back at the forefront of thought...if it hadn't been there already.
It is also a time for checking out each other's new equipment, reminiscing about days past, big waves recently ridden elsewhere in the world, and talking theory on wave approachall with tingling anticipation of what lies ahead. Especially this year, a supposed El Niño winter, which means size and quantity could be very bountiful as have El Niño's of past.
With all the talk of a big El Niño and big storms going around, there was a hint of irony at having such stunning weather. As we all lined up with our boards for the traditional role call and introductions, many of us had our wetsuits half way on, upper bodies absorbing the sun, knowing it was likely the last time we would find ourselves on the beach at Maverick's doing this any time soon, and probably the last time we would peer out at a flat ocean from this vantage.
Amongst all the good vibes there was a slight strangeness. Jeff Clark, the pioneer of Maverick's and contest mastermind throughout the years is no longer involved because business relations went a bit weird with Mavs Surf Ventures, the current parent company that puts on the contest. He's usually the one guiding the opening ceremony with a deep level of thoughtfulness, so his lack of presence was a bit sad. It just didn't feel the same, but things change.
And there is some new positive change within the event this year that has turned things slightly more democratic. While all the surfers had a vote on how to format the contest this year, they opted to leave things the same, but what is important is that all surfers now have a vote on the day to run the event; which is a massive, often teeter-totting decision. Sometimes it is a no brainer, but other days can float in a grey zone of possibly great, possibly not. So this year the surfers all get to cast their vote on any considered days, putting to use a large collective of intelligence from years of watching the storms that bring Mav's to life.
We all paddled out, clasped hands and formed the traditional circle, met by Jeff Clark who snuck out there incognito, saying "I may not be involved any more, but no way am I missing the paddle out with all of you."
That completed things and everybody passed along kind words, appreciation, and respect for one another and the magnificent force of nature we all love, often in a humorous tone, as is the norm with this group. Food, drink, music and celebration followed and things carried on late into the clear night, with no shortage of amusement and hilarity for the finishing touches on this lovely gathering.