The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

January 21, 2013

Big swells spice up surfing competition

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Mother Nature saved the best for last, with some of the largest swells of the day arriving during the final heat of Sunday’s Mavericks Invitational big wave surfing contest as thousands of spectators invaded a quaint coastal town known more for its annual pumpkin festival than for surf.

The waves weren’t the largest ever seen at the famed Northern California Mavericks surf break a half-mile offshore of Half Moon Bay — the biggest faces reached 25 to 30 feet — but surfing fans still got their fill of steep drops, wipeouts and powerful, booming surf.

In the end, Peter Mel, of Santa Cruz, took home the crown. He decided to split the $50,000 pot with his six competitors, a symbol of good faith that has become a Mavericks Invitational tradition.

Sunday’s contest was the first since 2010 at the bone-crushing break that has claimed the lives of two expert big wave surfers.

Wave forecasters this week saw an excellent mixture of swell, wind, tide and sunny skies, though the waves Sunday morning were not quite as big as expected.

Because there were long intervals between the swells, there were a lot of 20- to 30-minute lulls between waves.

“But when the waves came they were pretty exciting,” said Jeff Clark, who is credited with being the first to surf Mavericks and is a key part of the event’s organization.

Surfing the wave at Mavericks is a feat that takes athletic skill, experience and nerve.

The swells travel through deep water for five days before hitting a small, finger-like section of shallow reef that juts out into the sea.

When the swell meets the reef, the wave jumps upward and crashes back down with a fury, eventually washing through a section of craggy rocks.

The takeoff is often so steep that the surfers’ big-wave “gun” surfboards leave the wave face, forcing the surfers to land near the bottom and make a quick turn before being pummeled by the wave’s lip.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Hong Kong firms on edge as democracy rally blockade looms

    HONG KONG — As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst. Chan’s investment company has added ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in the Netherlands

    KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Iraq elects new president as attacks kill dozens

    BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Doctor fired back at gunman

    DARBY, Pa. — A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said....

    July 25, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Tornado slams Virginia campground

    CAPE CHARLES, Va. — The sky turned black and cellphones pinged with emergency messages. Moments later, a tornado ripped through a sprawling, carnival-like campground Thursday, snapping dozens of trees and flipping over RVs....

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona inmate dies two hours after execution begins

    PHOENIX — A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S....

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead after Taiwan plane crash

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island today where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were ...

    July 24, 2014