A Prayer and a Paddle Out

by Kristine A. Wong

I produced, shot, and edited this video of the world’s top big wave surfers at the opening ceremonies of the 2011-2012 Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan 6, 2012. In addition to the video, I shot photos (including the one below) and wrote a print article for Half Moon Bay Patch.
See the rest of the photos here and read the article below.

A Prayer and a Paddle Out: 2012 Mavericks Opening Ceremonies from kristine a. wong on Vimeo.

Surfers from as far away as South Africa, Australia, Brazil and Hawaii — and as close as Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz — converged on Mavericks beach in Half Moon Bay, Calif., less than a mile in from the surf break known as one of the most treacherous waves in the world.

Seventeen competitors, alternates, and former Mavericks contest champions participated in the ceremony, including 3-time winner and now-retired Darryl “Flea” Virostko from Santa Cruz.

Oahu’s Kohl Christensen wore a “Live Like Sion” shirt commemorating Sion Milosky, the surfer who traveled from Hawaii and died while riding Mavericks’ last big waves of the 2010-2011 winter season.

San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and State Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) provided opening remarks, while Mavericks Invitational CEO Rocky Raynor presented each surfer with a ceremonial ti leaf and led the group in an opening prayer.

Afterwards, the group completed the opening ceremonies by paddling out to form a prayer circle on the water modeled after the Hawaiian tradition.

Adding to the afternoon’s excitement was the buzz of a helicopter flying over the surf break, blufftops and beach filming Of Men and Mavericks, the Hollywood film portrayal of Mavericks surfer Jay Moriarity starring Gerard Butler. The film has been shooting in the area since October. Contest director and Mavericks veteran Jeff Clark was out on the water with the film crew and other Mavericks competitors shooting scenes for the movie.

On Friday evening, surfers celebrated into the evening at a dinner and party at the Oceano Hotel in Princeton. They also drew their heat position for the day of the contest. Results are as follows:

1st Heat
Carlos Burle
*Shane Desmond
Tyler Smith
*Ben Wilkinson
*Chris Bertish
*Ken Collins

2nd Heat
Nathan Fletcher
Matt Ambrose
Grant Baker
Mark Healy
*Anthony Tashnick
*Ryan Seelbach

3rd Heat
Dave Wassel
Rusty Long
*Shawn Dollar
Ryan Augenstein
Jamie Sterling
Zach Wormhoudt

4th Heat
Shane Dorian
Grant Washburn
*Alex Martins
Kelly Slater
Greg Long
Peter Mel

*=present at opening ceremony and paddle out at Mavericks Beach

See coverage of last year’s Mavericks opening ceremonies on Half Moon Bay Patch here.

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