A firsthand account of reporting at Mavericks
They had the road blocked at Capistrano, so we had to park on the east side of Highway 1 and make our way the mile or so to the beach entrance. My nephew, Ethan, had the day off and was along for the ride, eager to see the infamous breakers. Knowing that we only had a few hours of the morning, I decided we needed to make haste.
Like a trooper, the 12 year old kept up with my 6’2” frame as I barged past the Mavericks Festival tents and the Half Moon Bay Brewery until we got just beyond the Green Pier, where I made a beeline for the beach. Sheriffs had the entrance blocked and steadfastly refused us access. I showed them my press pass and they laughed.
“Sorry,” they said. “There’s a lot of media here today. Nobody gets past.”
“I know another way,” I assured Ethan. Even more than I wanted to see the event for myself and to get some shots for my story, I didn’t want to disappoint my nephew. We made our way toward the second route only to find more sheriffs and volunteers with an obvious disdain for journalism. Again, I showed them my press pass.
“You have to go back to the media tent to get an official event pass,” I was told. “It’s back by the brewery.”
I looked at Ethan. I could tell he was not thrilled by the prospect of more running, but he wasn’t about to show it. So, we ran back a mile or so to the media tent, joking about how nice a skateboard would be and laughing as people skated toward the event. I was sweating and red in the face by the time we met the lovely woman in charge of giving out media passes.
“What’s your name?” she asked, reasonably enough.
My hope faded as she skimmed down the list not finding my name, let alone Ethan’s.
“Well, not everyone made it on the list,” she said. “Just put your information down here. I see you have a photo assistant today, too.”
She handed us two media bracelets and wished us good luck. We didn’t even wait to put the bracelets on. We ran back to the entrance to Mavericks happily waving our passes.
“Wait, wait, wait.” The volunteer sheriff was doing an excellent job at keeping people out. “Media passes only get you to the festival tents. Nobody gets past here without being personally escorted by Jessica.”
Who is Jessica? Are you kidding me? Why did we run back to the media tent? These questions and more flashed through my mind, but I managed tactfully to obtain Jessica’s cell phone number. She gave them the OK for us to go to the next checkpoint where we could wait for her. There was so much security just to save people from themselves, but that is a testament to the power of the wave. It’s just too dangerous to grant the general public access. Finally, we got the green light and made our way out to the beach.
To my surprise, there were only half a dozen people on the beach. Needless to say, my nephew and I were elated. There they were: the majestic waves at Mavericks. We cruised down the beach looking for vantage points where we could see the action, but the waves were so big you often couldn’t see the breaking wave past the whitewash of the one that broke before. Still, we managed to see a few impressive rides and one devastating wipeout. Needing to get back to town, we could only watch for an hour or so. On our way back, though, we climbed up on the bluff and finally got a proper view of the action. Once we were high enough to see whole scene we crouched on a section of the cliff that was not very steep and took in a few sets of that amazing wave.
From our vantage point you could see the harbor and how it is created by a series of jetties that enclose all but a narrow gap for boats to enter and exit. The contrast between the placid water inside the harbor and the surging froth of the ocean just outside the jetties was remarkable. I took a deep breath and looked at my nephew, who was soaking up the energy of the place. We’d made it.
Running back to my truck was not nearly as fun, but it was a triumphant feeling, nonetheless. Witnessing the power of that wave in person was well worth the effort.
For more information on the event, including results and highlights, check out the official website for the event at mavericksinvitational.com.