Mavericks battle lines drawn

For the first time in seven years, Mavericks Surf Ventures has an opponent applying for the single permit to host San Mateo County’s world-famous surfing contest.

A group of former surf competitors formed the Jay Moriarity Maverick’s Invitational and is submitting the same six-page compliance documents to the San Mateo County Harbor District. The Harbor Commission is expected to consider applications from both entities at its Sept. 1 meeting.

The Mavericks contest comprises 24 of the world’s top surfers, all trying to maneuver the mountainous waves off Half Moon Bay.

“Traditionally, there’s only one [permit],” said Marietta Harris, the district’s resource manager. “But it’s really up to the commission. They can do whatever they want.”

In January, the founder of the contest, Jeff Clark — who was asked to join the upstart group — announced he was suing Mavericks Surf Ventures for not honoring financial obligations. Clark did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

The major sponsor of the contest, Barracuda Networks, chose to instead enter a three-year agreement with the new group.

“Poached is not a good word, but we definitely have entered into an agreement with them,” Barracuda spokeswoman Kylie Heintz said. “We’re supporting the group that’s moving forward.”

Mavericks Surf Ventures CEO Keir Beadling responded in an e-mail that he has every intention of operating the big-wave contest.

“It takes about 500 people and 75 organizations to produce the contest every year, and so our team is now deep into the preparations for the upcoming winter waiting period,” Beadling said. “We look forward to continuing our long tradition of honoring and celebrating Mavericks, the local community, the ocean environment and the competitors.”

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