The Body Glove Mavericks Invitational went off in the best sense of the word on Thursday, January 24, 2014 in conditions that ranged from challenging, to challenging. A few days before, a giant low pressure system moved across the Pacific, with the promise of giant surf delivered to both the Eddie Aikau Invitational in Hawaii and the Mavericks event in California.
In Hawaii, the giant swell coincided with contrary winds, so that contest was called off. In California Jeff Clark looked at the big picture weather chart and the local winds and hesitated before giving the greenlight. On Thursday, the first heat was held in 15 to 18-foot surf, with bigger 20 foot sets pitching top to bottom in the bowl.
GoPro is a co-sponsor of the event and one of their cameras mounted to the nose of Mark Healey’s surfboard gave the webcast and the world an idea of what it’s like to be caught inside a giant wave at Mavericks.
The contest wound through four heats of six surfers, then down to two, six-person semi-finals. Conditions in the morning had hard offshore winds which created their own kind of challenging, and then in the afternoon a dreaded south wind threw chops sideways up the faces, which was challenging indeed.
Santa Cruz surfers like Peter Mel and Ken Collins who had brilliant heats in the first round, fell victim to the hard conditions in the semis and went down. Shane Dorian had been paddle surfing Jaws the day before, flew over from Hawaii to California on the redeye, and paddled out first thing without much sleep. He performed brilliantly and made it to the final, where his one drop, bent over double at the waist, should have scored a 10.
But in the end, it was a very determined Grant “Twiggy” Baker who dominated the event. He described the conditions as “challenging” but threw himself over the ledge repeatedly, making incredible drops and turning a very loose surfboard around huge mountains of whitewater. Twiggy took home $50,000 for the win, and the Mavericks contest has cemented itself as one of the greatest spectacles in surfing.