At 6 p.m. on the evening of May 13, the inaugural Mavericks Awards were broadcast right here on The Inertia. Big wave contests are hard to do right. They’re generally one-day events. But the Mavericks Awards succeeded in that it was a culmination of a season’s worth of video clips from the iconic wave, submitted for judges at the end of the waiting period. Thursday night celebrated the hard-charging winter that was, a moment to salute the big wave world.
As many would expect following his season of highlight reel moments at gigantic Mavericks, it was a clean sweep by Mr. Peter Mel. Mel won Best Barrel, Male Performer of the Year, Biggest Wave, and Ride of the Year. Always a standout with her skill and willingness to charge, France’s Justine Dupont nabbed Female Performer of the Year. “When I came to Mavericks,” Dupont said in her acceptance speech, “my goal was to put time in the water. To improve on my skills, my equipment, figuring out the lineup, and improving my paddling. Definitely, I think this award is the cherry on top of the cake.”
There was little in the way of doubt that Mel would clean up. “I would have to say that I probably expected this one,” Pete Mel laughed when he was awarded the Ride of the Year award. “Just because it was definitely the ride of my lifetime. This award is very special. It’s one of the main awards, because generally it’s about the best wave ridden all season long… and it was the best wave I’ve ever ridden in my life.”
Of course, when it comes to surfing big waves, it’s a partnership. Mel’s partner is his son, John (which made the evening all the more sweet) as the Mavericks Awards worked to recognize safety and teamwork in the water. “It was a big partnership between my son and I,” Mel said. “He killed it. He really did. We got ourselves a Yamaha FXHO for this season, before it even started, and it really paid off. John drove exceptionally. That day only comes probably once a decade, and to be able to share this award with John and get myself one of the biggest waves I’ve ever had at Mavericks was an accomplishment that I’ll never forget.”
Anyone could enter. It was a simple process: surf Mavericks between Dec 1, 2020 and April 15, 2021 and submit the footage. Then, a diverse, respected panel of judges that included former Mavs champion Chris Bertish, Jeff Clark, Darryl “Flea” Virostko, Maya Gabeira, and Grant Washburn, prodded, and eventually picked the winners. The field of entries was absolutely stacked with equal prize money up for grabs and equal opportunity in all categories. Matt Bromley, Kai Lenny, John Mel, Justine Dupont, Bianca Valenti, Grant Baker, Hunter Murison, and Manny Resano were all finalists, making Pete Mel’s clean sweep more impressive.
When judging an event like the Mavericks Awards, even those who came in second submitted stout entries. John Mel was the runner up for Best Barrel and Bianca Valenti was the runner up for Female Performer. Kai Lenny finished runner up for Biggest Wave, Ride of the Year, and Male Performance.
So, with one of the best winters ever at Mavericks done and dusted, the awards handed out, and the acceptances speeches done, only one thing remains: prepping bodies and equipment for next year. We can’t wait to see what happens.