“I go in with humble expectations, because I really, really respect the power of the wave,” says Bianca Valenti, a Bay Area native and Mavericks regular. Bianca has been surfing at Mavericks for years, as well as clocking time during massive swells at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and Puerto Escondido in Mexico.
Justine Dupont is no stranger to Mavericks either, although she may have called herself that at the beginning of this season. During her acceptance speech for Female Performer of the Year at the Mavericks Surf Awards, she spoke to the immense amount of gratitude she has for those who have hosted her and made her feel welcome in the Half Moon Bay Community. “When I came to Mavericks, my goal was to put time in the water, improve on my skills, my equipment…my paddling in big waves.” Well, she’s done that and more, earning herself the Female Performer of the Year award for the time she’s put in – both paddling and towing – at Mavericks.
“Every big wave is like a person… you learn how to react to it and, man or woman, it’s not about the gender,” says Justine.
And this year, at least in one respect, it wasn’t. Equal prize money was awarded for the categories of Male and Female Performer of the Year, and the remaining three prize-categories (Biggest Wave, Best Barrel and Ride of the Year) were open to any gender.
And while these two might be the only women up there among the nominees, many more are on the way. “There’s definitely a lot of momentum, Bianca says, “and there are more up-and-coming girls.” One such up and coming charger is Izzi Gomez, who turned her razor-sharp focus on Jaws to Mavericks for a few sessions this winter.
This season, I got down to Mavericks for my first time (to watch from the boat, I’m not that crazy). The waves were clean and user-friendly at “only” 15-25 feet. I saw a ton of younger chargers out there that day, some getting their feet wet at Mavs for the first time, and it was a solid mix of girls and guys. With surfers like Bianca and Justine leading the way, and a strong field of athletes right behind them, I’d say the future of women’s surfing at Mavericks is in good hands.
You can find the full results of the 2021 Mavericks Awards, here.