Maverick's Contest Delivers the Goods
Youth Rule as Tashnick Takes Top Prize
By Dean Latourrette
March 2, 2005
Half Moon Bay, CA - On a day that saw sizeable surf and difficult wind-blown conditions, youth and bravado won out over age and experience. Anthony Tashnick, just 20 years old, surfed his way into Maverick's legend, claiming first place in the fourth-ever Maverick's Surf Contest with equal parts agility and recklessness. "It feels pretty good," said the 20-year-old Tashnick. "A lot of these guys are my heroes."
With three-time champion Darryl "Flea" Virostko sidelined by a knee injury, Tashnick took full advantage and stole the show at the annual event. He combined a fearless approach with wave savvy beyond his years, which was enough to impress the judges on his way to the winner's circle. With waves in the 25-30 foot range (faces), tricky northwest winds, and plenty of thrills and spills, surfers that were able to survive and navigate the challenging conditions were the ones who were able to advance.
While experience is generally considered a huge advantage at Maverick's, some young guns dominated this year's contest, with 21-year-old Greg Long of San Clemente placing second, and Tyler Smith of Santa Cruz, who's 26, finishing third. Brock Little of Hawaii, now 36, was once a young gun himself, charging big surf at an early age. "When you're young you're more fearless," said Brock, "but now that I'm older, I know so much more, and I feel so comfortable. I think it kind of balances out."
In typical fashion, the contest did not come without its share of calamities. After dominating his first heat, Ryan Seelbach of San Francisco fell hard on his last wave and suffered a lengthy hold down. He then proceeded to take seven straight waves on the head before the water patrol, which appeared hesitant on the rescue, was able to get near him. By that time he was pushed up against the rocks on the inside, and was forced to remove his leash and let his board go or risk getting it caught around a rock. "I was pretty rattled," Seelbach said later, "plus I got tired. I never really recovered after that for my next heat." The water patrol was finally able to fetch him, but actually had to motor between the rocks with Seelbach dragging behind on the rescue sled.
Several other surfers had close calls with the rocks. In addition, two surfers required serious medical attention: One due to a mild concussion suffered from a hard impact with the water's surface, the other when he came up after a particularly long hold-down and was coughing up blood. Both are expected to be fine.
Less than 48 hours before start time, organizers made what appeared to be a risky call to run the contest. On the eve of the event, rain and southwest winds ripped through the Half Moon Bay area, and the swell didn't appear big enough for Maverick's to even break. But on contest day, morning gave way to sunny skies, a rapidly increasing swell, and calm winds. "We had the best waves we've ever had," said Jeff Clark, contest director. "This year, we got it done with style."
Heat 5 (semi-final):
Heat 6 (semi-final):
JAY MORIARITY AWARD
REACTOR WATCH AWARD
Photos of the contest by Don Montgomery & Tony Canadas