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A suite of big changes are coming for the acclaimed Mavericks surfing contest, and foremost among them is a new name — “Titans of Mavericks.” That new identity comes with an overhaul of the contest’s look, its schedule and its selection of surfers.
The big-wave contest brought its homepage and social media sites online last month with the goal to once again build anticipation for the main event early next year.
In a sort of precompetition, organizers this year are playing up their surfer selection process. In late September, they announced a list of 56 surfers they were vetting for the main event. As the days draw nearer to the contest, organizers explained they would whittle down this list to a final selection of 24 surfers, the traditional number who are allowed each year to compete.
Among that list is a host of big-name talent, including 2014 champion Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Shawn Dollar, Kelly Slater, as well as local chargers Tim West and Colin Dwyer. Also included are two female surfers — Sarah Gerhardt and Savannah Shauhgnessy — who could be featured in what has previously been an all-male event.
The challengers will be decided by the “Committee 5,” a quintet of Mavericks veterans including Jeff Clark, Darryl “Flea” Virostko and Matt Ambrose.
The first culling of the list came on Friday — 18 surfers were eliminated, including West and Gerhardt. More updates on the final lineup will be posted on the event’s Facebook page.
But perhaps the biggest change for the 2015 contest is going unmentioned by the event’s promoters. For this year’s event, two months are being chopped off the contest window.
In the storied tradition of Mavericks, the contest is called on short notice, when the waves are breaking for a spectacular event. To work with a hodgepodge of agencies, sponsors and vendors, the contest organizers stick to a contest window, a stretch of months when the contest could be called.
In past years, the contest window was open for five months from Nov. 1 through the end of March. But this year, organizers say they’re foregoing November and December due to scheduling difficulties around the holidays. That leaves three months in early 2015 when the contest could happen.
The decision to shorten the schedule was relatively easy because so many days were already blacked out during those months anyways, said Mavericks spokesman Rocky Raynor.
“It wasn’t a tough call. The agencies were actually real happy about it,” he said. “We only had like five days available in those two months.”
But what if one of those days ends up being the absolute perfect day for the contest?
“I would be devastated,” Raynor said.
Regardless of the calendar changes, the opening ceremony is still going forward around the usual time of year. The event marks the start of the big-wave season and traditionally involves a paddle-out to form a prayer circle out on the water. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Oct. 24.
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