Maverick’s sponsor pulls plug, leaves surf contest's future in question

The host of the famous Maverick’s surf contest near Half Moon Bay has disbanded and the financial sponsor withdrawn after the first year of a three-year agreement, calling into question the competition’s future.

Barracuda Networks, a Silicon Valley-based software company, recently announced it would pull out of the competition to “redirect efforts and attention to other projects.” A news release indicated that one reason for the decision was the disbanding of the Half Moon Bay Surf Group. The company and the surf group teamed up to host the competition in 2011.]

Until 2010, the event had been hosted by Mavericks Surf Ventures, which was co-founded by Jeff Clark, the first person to surf Maverick’s and the originator of the annual contest. Clark parted with Surf Ventures in summer 2009.

The decision by Barracuda Networks also apparently followed a number of conversations with people representing family members of Jay Moriarity, the surfer who died in 2001 and whose name the event was dedicated to in
2010-11.

“Unfortunately, discussions with officials surrounding plans for the 2011-2012 season were not progressing as we had hoped and very recently some Moriarity family members and their representatives have requested that we discontinue use of Jay’s name for the event; we respect that decision,” Michael Perone, the executive vice president and CMO of Barracuda Networks, said in a statement.

It’s unknown if another sponsor will come forward before next year’s competition.

The contest invites 24 surfers to participate in the one-day competition. Surfers are given 24 hours of notice to get to the location off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

Insufficient waves kept the competition from happening in 2007, 2009 and 2011. In 2010, organizers extended the contest window to call the competition by four weeks to increase its chances of happening.

Chris Bertish won the competition in 2010. The winner makes $150,000 and gains bragging rights.

The latest contest window was Dec. 1 to Feb. 28.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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