As reported last week, the simmering dispute between Maverick's pioneer Jeff Clark and Maverick's Surf Contest producer Mavericks Surf Ventures has threatened to go nuclear for months. Today, Clark finally pressed the big red button. In a release, Clark announced that he's filing suit against MSV, citing breach of fiduciary duties and fraud.
While rumors of litigation have swirled, until now there's been no clear explanation of the terms. The wording of the release throws some light on those terms, even if the light is in a particular shade of legalese:
"The complaint, filed with the Superior Court of San Francisco County, states that MSV breached its contracts with Clark, withheld payments on those contracts, and breached its fiduciary duties to shareholders by the Board's self-dealing, squandering of corporate assets and failure to disclose even basic financial and other corporate information. The suit claims that, in breaching their fiduciary duties, MSV and its current directors acted with oppression, fraud and malice."
Clark's quote in the release is even more revealing:
"I've waited patiently and remained quiet in an effort to settle our issues in private, without casting a shadow over the contest that I founded. But it's obvious MSV has no intention of working this out. They have forced me to file suit in order to move on with my life," Clark said.
"When I signed on to partner with Keir [Beadling] and Evolve Sports, I trusted them to do the right thing, to honor my spirit and passion for surfing," Clark said. "I made a mistake and I trusted the wrong people. They have refused to honor the contracts they created and have turned the contest into a corporate circus."
Clark's lawsuit comes on the heels of the third contestable swell that's come and gone since the event window opened in November. With questions of the contest's long-term viability being raised if it fails to run for a second consecutive year, things are only getting more complicated for the most important big wave contest on the mainland U.S.
Check back with ESPN Surfing as this story develops.