Local businesses worry about Mavericks

December 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The tough economy is having on impact on a popular big wave surf competition at Mavericks so organizers are making some changes this year, but delaying the event may be the only option.

Jeff Clark knows about the waves. As founder, he's responsible for calling the Mavericks Surf Competition. He chooses the day and gives a select group of surfers from around the world 24 hours to get to Pillar Point and surf for a $75,000 prize.

"It's like the Super Bowl of surfing," says Lyle Carlson, a surfer.

And like any big event, Mavericks needs sponsors, which haven't all gotten on board.

"We've had some things with raising money to produce the event," said Jeff Clark, the contest director.

Mavericks CEO blames the sponsors' hesitancy on the economy and tightening budgets. As a result, even the opening ceremony, which usually takes place the first week of December, is on hold. And the window in which the competition can be declared will likely not open until January. It usually runs from now until March 30th.

"We hate to see it go this late into the season," said Clark.

So do those at the Mezza Luna restaurant, where business shoots up as soon as the Mavericks window opens.

"After November, people start wondering about Mavericks event, when it's going to happen so it always makes people come to the coast and look. Definitely brings people any time," said Michael Oliverio, a Mezza Luna manager.

The restaurant makes an extra $15,000 because of Mavericks. In the meantime, local surfers are already bracing themselves for the worst.

"If it doesn't get the money together to run it, then it's less exposure for surfing which already is a sport that doesn't have a lot of mainstream exposure," said Carson.

The competition itself usually doesn't take place until late January or February, that's why organizers say not to worry, but without the Mavericks hype, many local business owners worry about their bottom line.


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