Mavericks organizers go bankrupt, this year’s contest in doubt

It appears “extremely unlikely” that the Titans of Mavericks surf contest near Half Moon Bay will be held this year, a San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner said Wednesday.

Sabrina Brennan, who is also a long-time advocate of women participating in the contest, made the prediction because organizers filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday; Red Bull Media House, which livestreams the event, has filed a lawsuit against organizers and she doesn’t believe organizers have the money to pay the athletes.

Also, among other reasons, any buyer will need a host of permits, which will likely take longer than is left in the competition window, which ends March 31.

Organizers Titans of Mavericks LLC and Cartel Management Inc. both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday to sell the company to a larger outfit, the event’s founder said in a statement and court documents show.

The organizers said that since 2014, they have invested $3 million in the competition and the filing is meant to preserve the value of the enterprise and make for an orderly sale of the assets and intellectual property.

Founder Griffin Guess said:

“It is time for a larger organization to gain from all of our hard work. … The process will allow Titans of Mavericks to reach new heights in the right hands.”

Guess is listed in court documents as a managing member of Titans of Mavericks LLC and president of Cartel Management Inc., both of which are seeking protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California in Los Angeles.

The competition, which started in 1999, draws top surfers from around the world for one day of big wave surfing with waves of up to 60 feet, according to organizers.

Surfers have 48 hours to get to Half Moon Bay when organizers decide the conditions are right. This year’s competition window officially started on Nov. 1.

Last year, Nic Lamb of Santa Cruz was the winner.

This year was to be the first in which women compete. If the contest does go on, the women would compete for $30,000 in prize money, organizers said.

A statement from the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing said they are disappointed but not surprised by the bankruptcy filings.

The committee said that it suspected there were problems when contest officials failed to hold the contest in November when there were two days of perfect conditions and a day last month with perfect conditions.

Court documents show officials with Titans of Mavericks LLC had debts of $100,001 to $500,000 and assets of $50,000 or less. Cartel Management, which is based in Los Angeles, listed debts of $1,000,001 to $10 million.

Attorney David Neal, who is representing both companies, could not be reached for comment on the bankruptcy filing or to say for sure whether the contest will go on this year.