The inaugural Mavericks Festival, held Saturday at Pillar Point Harbor, captured the buoyant energy and sense of community inherent in the renegade sport the event celebrated, with food, music and plenty of ways to connect with ocean culture.
The free festival ran from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and was intended as a way to raise money for the Mavericks Awards. The video-based awards are the latest incarnation of the “official” contest centered on the famed break just offshore from the festival. Organizers also promise to donate 10 percent of the net proceeds to the Sea Hugger Foundation, a local environmental organization focused on removing plastic from the ocean, and list the El Granada Elementary School PTO, Half Moon Bay Surf Team, Half Moon Bay girls volleyball and Sea Crest School among local organizations it supports.
The first-of-its-kind event also served as an unofficial beginning of the big-wave season that runs through the winter. Local surfers participated in a traditional paddle-out before the event got rolling to signal a new beginning.
The Mavericks Awards are the brainchild of surfer-business owner Jeff Clark and fellow Coastside entrepreneur Chris Cuvelier and promise cash prizes for men and women in different categories. Winners submit video evidence of their rides at the break over the course of the season. The money is split between surfers and the videographer who chronicles the ride. Last season, Coastsider Luca Padua was the big winner.
A steady crowd built throughout the day, milling between vendors. It was a good time and a terrific opportunity for entrepreneurs like Tommy Lundgard, the “Tommy” in Tommy Tsunami Surf School.
Lundgard grew up in Half Moon Bay and has been surfing Mavericks for years. He said the festival was an opportunity to “get the brand out” and that he was using the festival to launch a new clothing line. By midday, he said many people had stopped by to purchase a T-shirt or find out about surf lessons.
Lt. Junior Grade Natasha Kenney called her section of the festival, a part of a series of tents dedicated to education, “Coast Guard Corner.” She said it was nice to meet people who are curious about the Coast Guard’s role on the San Mateo County coast. She said the San Francisco sector is among the busiest Coast Guard stations in the country.
In other corners of the educational area, the Audubon Society, Coastside Emergency Response Team, the National Marine Sanctuary and other environmental and public safety organizations set up booths from which to answer questions.
It all made for a good time for visitors and local residents like Paul Shapiro and Nancy Patterson.
“We’re friends with the organizer (Cuvelier),” Shapiro said. “We live in Miramar and we like the ocean.”
The awards that are funded by the festival serve as a replacement for the one-day contest that drew worldwide attention to Mavericks and the Coastside. Patterson noted that many outsiders only know Half Moon Bay and environs as the locale of the surf contest. Shapiro says he misses the one-day event, to an extent.
“Yes and no,” he said, adding that he liked watching from the bluff but was aware of the environmental impact crowds of spectators had on the area. “I like the new contest too.” ▪
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