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Peter Mel Wins The 2013 Mavericks Invitational

January 24th, 2013
Pete-Mel-Wins-The-2013-Mavericks-Invitational

Pete “Condor” Mel wins the Mavericks Invitational

One of North California’s all-time best, Peter Mel came back to his home waters in the nick of time to rip the competition at the 2013 Mavericks Invitational, one of the pinnacles of big wave surfing, and whilst the lulls were long enough to make viewers and contenders fall asleep, when the waves did come through they were perfect 12-15 ft peaks. Mel’s effortless style and smooth turns were enough to best fellow finalists Zach Wormhoudt, Greg Long, Alex Martins, Mark Healey and Shawn Dollar and in a move that’s become custom in big wave surfing events, Pete decided to split his $50,000 cheque with his fellow finalists, what a guy!

Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian were both absent from the event. Shane Dorian pulled out due to a shoulder injury he got at Nazare, Portugal, but Kelly Slater pulled out because of a dispute with ASP. Since the Mavericks event isn’t an ASP sanctioned event, Kelly would’ve been fined, lost ASP points and seeding had he entered.

There’s no doubt that there’ll be enough of noise about the decision to run the event, specially when some contenders were sounding concerns about the swell not being heavy enough as early as Friday morning.

“Deciding whether or not to run was pretty brutal,” said Contest Director Gary Linden. “Last night I went surfing out there and there were a lot of long lulls. This morning looked similar when we made the call. We tried to be positive, but a couple of surfers this morning didn’t even want to surf, but we just pressed on and got through it.

There was a lot more than just a contest in motion here. We had the festival and everything and as we become a bigger event, it becomes harder to pull off. If we were down in Todos Santos and it wasn’t all that great, we might have just cut our losses. But out there today, it was just a matter of accepting that it would be a little difficult to find good waves. But it was still contestable. If it had been a lake out there, of course we wouldn’t have sent them out there to do water ballet. It had to be legit, and I think we did okay. A really good big-wave break like Mavericks will be impressive no matter what when it’s breaking.”

It was awesome when the waves eventually came through. Even in its subdued personification, Mavericks has a vicious bite and the flotilla of over 50 boats saw plenty of steep drops and clean rides even if they did appear spookily like to an over-gunned day at say, Backdoor or Pipeline.

There was conjecture aplenty about how Long’s near drowning at the Cortes Bank would affect him when conditions got serious, although it didn’t exactly put him through his paces, his third place finish was a critical first step to putting the episode behind him.

With all the finalists choosing to split the winner’s check before the final began, it was no surprise that there was more jockeying amongst the boats in the channel during the final than there was in the lineup. As the final kicked off the largest set of the day ploughed into the channel, the adrenalin spike kickstarted the final, which became a battle between 2 Santa Cruz favourites Peter Mel and Zach Wormhoudt. Finally it was the sentimental favourite, Peter Mel who was crowned the champion and although the 2013 Mavericks Invitational won’t be remembered for it’s size or furiousness, Peter Mel’s name will be inscribed as the man who surfed it the best.

2013 Mavericks Invitational Results
1. Pete Mel ($50,000)
2. Zach Wormhoudt
3. Greg Long
4. Alex Martins
5. Mark Healey
6. Shawn Dollar

Peter Mel Interview after the Mavericks Invitational

So this seems like it’s been a long time coming. How does it feel to get a win at Mavericks?

The first thing that comes to mind is relief, but I’m still not sure if that’s the right word. That implies that I deserved to win, which is not really the case. I’m satisfied with just competing at this high of a level at such an extremely difficult spot to surf. That already gives me a great sense of accomplishment. But this is one event that I’ve been competing in and wanting to win for so many years, so for that it feels really, really amazing.

It seems like big-wave competition is less cutthroat, and there’s a really strong camaraderie—I mean, you guys even split the prize money. What is the dynamic like between you guys?

Yeah, before we even paddled out in the Final today we all agreed to split the prize money regardless of who won. In conditions like that, it felt right. I don’t know, maybe we should just all split the money every time. We do it because of the love we all have for riding big waves, and the feeling that you get from doing it. Everything else is just kind of an afterthought.

Were you surprised that the event ran today?

I studied the maps, and I have confidence in the contest directors and their ability to call swells. So I believed that we would be able to run the event today, but we knew it was going to be inconsistent. But there were still some amazing waves ridden today, and I’m sure you’ll be able to see that in the videos and photos from the day. There was definitely a lot of sitting around and chatting, but that’s always a part of big-wave surfing. That’s probably a big part of why there’s such camaraderie—we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well through the lulls over the years [laughs.]

Since you started surfing at Mavericks, you’ve seen the whole spectrum of big-wave surfing as it has evolved. What has it been like to witness that?

Tow surfing had its place, and it was neat in the way that it really did push performance and make us rethink equipment and ride bigger waves than we ever thought was possible beforehand. Tow surfing taught us how big of waves we could eat it on and still survive. So that era of surfing was really an important step that lead us all to the level we are at now with paddling. It helped us look at it differently, and now in big-wave paddle surfing we are all just going to keep pushing it and going bigger, and bigger, and bigger. If you look at photos from the last time we ran this event, those were some of the biggest waves ever paddled into. Then last month at Cortez Bank, again, the limits were pushed and that was honestly some of the scariest big-wave surfing I’ve ever done—it was freaky. The photos that I saw didn’t really do it justice out there, but I saw guys paddle into some of the biggest waves I’ve ever seen ridden. Thinking about that evolution now, it’s really crazy that I’ve been a part of it as long as I have and I feel really lucky to have not gotten really hurt and to still be surfing big waves.

I know that you live in Southern California now. Is Mavericks still as big a part of your life as it has always been?

It definitely still is. I always know when it’s going to break, and it’s a little bit more challenging to get here from Southern California, but Greg [Long] does it, and Healey flies over here from Hawaii. When it’s on, we come. We all get to hang out and surf this incredible wave and it’s important to all of us. Surfing Mavericks is still a big part of my life, and it always will be.

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