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Surfer survives wipeout, comes back to win Mavericks big wave contest


    Ben Wilkinson, left, surfs beside Greg Long who wipes out on a giant wave during the third heat of the Mavericks surfing contest Friday, Feb. 12, in Half Moon Bay, Calif.


    Grant Washburn, wearing orange, rides a wave as Dave Wassel, wearing blue, wipes out during the fourth heat of the Mavericks surfing contest Friday, Feb. 12, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. At left is Shane Dorian.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. » Northern Californian Nic Lamb won the prestigious big-wave surfing contest known as the Titans of Mavericks today.

Lamb, 27, outlasted 23 competitors and a big wipeout to capture the 10th championship with a $120,000 purse at the legendary Mavericks surf break at Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.

“I’m over the moon,” Lamb said after climbing aboard a chase boat following the competition on the water. Lamb is from nearby Santa Cruz, which is about 60 miles south of Half Moon Bay, and surfed Mavericks growing up. He now lives in Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

The waves weren’t as big as past competitions, but grew steadily from 15 feet to 30 feet throughout the afternoon. Several surfers suffered spectacular wipeouts, including one of the pre-contest favorites Ken “Skindog” Collins.

Collins, also of Santa Cruz, suffered a punctured ear drum and was forced to withdraw from the competition after a bad spill in the pounding surf.

The surf then petered out during the finals and the six remaining surfers had few large waves to ride at the end.

Travis Payne of Pacifica, California, finished second and Greg Long of Santa Cruz finished third.

Long also won the $10,000 “boldest drop” award for the most spectacular ride of the day. Long won the event in 2009.

James Mitchell won $5,000 for the day’s best ride in the “barrel.”

The surfing event is a one-day, invitation-only competition held almost every year when conditions are deemed just right between Nov. 1 and March 31.

The event has been canceled four times — including last year — since 1999 because of lack of waves. The contest was last held in January 2014.

Surfers received the call Tuesday, when many had gathered in Hawaii to participate in another renowned surfing contest. “The Eddie,” as it’s called, was cancelled hours before it was supposed to take place because of undersized breakers.

The swells travel through deep water for days before hitting a section of shallow reef that juts into the sea. When the swell hits the reef, the wave jumps up and crashes back down violently, then washes through craggy rocks.

In 2010, the contest attracted more than 100,000 live fans while thousands more watched on big screens at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The live crowd overwhelmed the beach. About a dozen people were injured after a wave knocked spectators into the water.

Spectators now have to watch online.

This season’s invitees are all male, but that could change.

The California Coastal Commission last year told organizers to have a plan to include women if they want a permit to hold the event next season.

Comments (11)

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    • Am looking at Google Map of Half Moon Bay. Is the location at Miramontes Point and the surf at Three Rocks? Looks far out to sea. How many yards out does one need to paddle to reach the waves? Surprised it is so conveniently close to San Mateo. Have fun you all. Big screens at ATT Park in SF? Wow, you people do things so much better than here and that’s why God sent the waves to you and not us.

    • True. Something as helpful as offer free jitney service to/from Waimea Beach park to some park and ride area like Haleiwa beach park and on the opposite side, some place past Sunset Beach park using a narrower “people mover” type propane vehicle that is allowed to use the curb of Kam hwy, kind of what is used to get people from the Disneyland parking lot to the main gate. That way encourage people to use this rather than creating gridlock traffic and trying to park their car all along the road or worse in the little Waimea Bay parking lot. However Half Moon bay is a terrible place for spectators to see surfers at Mavericks whereas Waimea Bay you have the spectacular beach or cliffs to easily view the surfers. Kind of like how Mauna Kea is probably the best place to have a billion dollar telescope, however Hawaii is so messed up they need to build it in inferior Chile.

    • It doesn’t. They just want to be PC. I would much rather f̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶e̶y̶e̶s̶ I mean study the technical aspects of the male surfers.

    • Those contestants are real sportsmen. The water is supremely cold and even then they go out with cumbersome wetsuits. They had to paddle into the monsters. No sissy jet skis here. The winner wiped out but still came back for more. Sheer determination and love for danger. Water so dark and dirty you can’t tell which way is up or down while you are drowning in a washing machine. These guys are macho men. BTW Nic Lamb won $120K. How much is the Eddie purse?

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