Maybe a fairytale ending for wounded surf contest.
Yesterday in The Mercury News, which is a fine northern Californian daily, it was reported the WSL had taken a swing at buying the rights to running a contest there.
Do you remember the big-wave event at Half Moon Bay? It had a very good name (Titans of Mavericks) and a fine logo that gave a sense of luxury and power. You could almost hear the cursing, yelling and squirting of champagne.
I do tend to go blank at the machinations of running surfing events, who owns what, permits, companies suddenly evoking Chapter 11 etc. But reading between the lines, it seems the WSL threw a low-ball offer at the current owner, Cartel Management, to buy the event.
And the company, which has an unsecured debt of $US1.2 million and, yes, is in Chapter 11, had planned an auction on June 1 with a starting bid of one million dollars.
The auction was cancelled, according to the Merc, because of “a lack of interest.”
And then in swung the WSL.
“If there is an opportunity for the WSL to acquire those assets we will,” WSL spokesman Dave Prodan said. “If they opt to sell those assets to another party, the WLS will reach out to another party to see if a partnership could be formed. If there is not a deal to be made with Cartel, the WSL will still pursue any other available avenues with regards to obtaining the correct permits to run an event.”
The WSL’s involvement could salvage a popular contest last held in 2016 after Cartel took over before facing financial and legal complications that led to a planned auction this month. However, Cartel canceled the auction because of a lack interest with bids starting at $1 million.
The WSL runs the Big Wave Tour that this spring was downsized from eight contests to three events: the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico, the Pea’hi Challenge in Maui and the Nazaré Challenge in Portugal.
Even if the World Surf League got control of Mavericks, it is not clear new operators could secure all the permits in time for the 2017-18 season that begins in November. A U.S. District Bankruptcy Court judge last week granted Cartel a continuance until Sept. 20 to reorganize. It’s doubtful a transfer of sale could be approved before that date.
“I don’t have a huge amount of confidence in anybody at this point,” veteran Mavericks contestant Grant Washburn said Wednesday. “It is difficult to see how it comes back together and everybody is on the same page.”
Washburn, a San Francisco filmmaker who has competed in all 10 contests, understands why people gravitate toward Mavericks with big ideas.
“But there’s really not a right answer,” he said. “A lot of us feel maybe we don’t need this contest if it is going to be problems all the time. It is fairly disrespectful to continuously have these things thrown on it. This is a huge circus and is it really befitting of this place?”
“Sometimes the people that are running these things think they are doing all the surfers a favor,” said Washburn, who has surfed at Mavericks for more than 25 years. “But most of the surfers don’t like this. They just want it to go away.”