Grant "Twiggy" Baker, who hails from Durban and clinched his first
Mavericks victory in 2006, was awarded a $12,000 grand prize at the
end of the daylong competition, which draws tens of thousands of
fans each year to the sleepy coastal town of Half Moon Bay, 30 miles
south of San Francisco.
"Twiggy's timing, when he's paddling into big waves, is probably
better than anyone else I've seen. He has a knack for putting
himself as deep as possible and still making it," fellow contestant
Mark Healey said in a statement posted on the Mavericks website.
The year's race, which organizers had considered postponing due to
fierce winds earlier in the week, featured waves between 40 and 50
feet high, breaking a half-mile off Pillar Point Harbor, a contest
Skies were slightly overcast and winds were ideally low the day of
the competition, spokesman Gary Bayless said from Mavericks Surf
Shop, the competition headquarters.
Stormy weather has led to monster waves in California and Hawaii and
caused treacherous conditions that forced the cancellation of a
separate surf competition in the Aloha State.
Two-dozen professional surfers hand-picked by organizer Jeff Clark
compete in the California event, which launched in 1999. Surfing
started at 8 a.m. local time and wrapped up at about sunset.
Shane Dorian, 41, from Hawaii, placed second to claim $6,000 in
prize money, followed by Californian Ryan Augenstein, 31, who will
receive $5,000 for finishing third. The other contestants will
receive $1,000 each.
Spectators of the monster swells have been barred from the beach and
surrounding towering cliffs since the 2010 contest, when the roaring
waves injured multiple onlookers.
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"The giant waves of Maverick's generate surges that leave the
small beach at Maverick's underwater, with no beach to stand
on," the website says.
Event-goers now gather outside on the grounds of the Oceano
Hotel and Spa in nearby Princeton Harbor, where the competition
is streamed live on giant screens. Last year, some 30,000 people
watched from the hotel parking lot, Bayless said.
A surf event in Hawaii set for Wednesday was canceled when
organizers deemed conditions too stormy to produce the quality
of waves needed, despite Oahu seeing its largest surf swell in a
"We got waves of 50 to 60 feeton Wednesday, but it was very
stormy and adverse conditions," said Jodi Wilmott, organizer of
the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big wave invitational.
"There were high wind warnings. Coming onshore (the wind)
absolutely shreds and destroys the waves. It's not the clean and
organized swells you can ride.
The event is on standby as organizers monitor upcoming swells to
the islands through the end of February, which is the deadline
for the event.
"It's been a very active winter sweep season so we are
optimistic that other opportunities will arise by then," Wilmott
(Additional reporting by Malia Mattoch in Honolulu; Writing by
Steve Gorman; editing by Dan Whitcomb, Andrew Hay and Ken Wills)
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