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Sunday, April 8, 2012
Maverick's curtain call

Local charger Ryan Seelbach makes the most of Maverick's last gasp of the season.

Before the invention of the mercury barometer, trying to come close to accurately predicting tomorrow's weather was left to history and experience of the current conditions. Today with satellites, shipping lanes, computer models and other techno advancements, making more accurate weather predictions has become a science and a business. And surfing's better for it.

As irony would have it, the day after the Maverick's Invitational Festival officially ended the event-waiting period, Mother Nature decided winter was not quite over and delivered a late-season monster swell.

"The late season swell was part of the ongoing La Nina pattern these past two winters where high pressure was locked over the dateline driving storm systems north and over the top of the high," reported Mark Sponsler from "Then they'd fall southeast through the Gulf of Alaska pushing towards and into the U.S. West Coast."

Although not remotely clean enough to hold an event, last Sunday's swell delivered some of the season's most spectacular surf. The Maverick's Invitational, folks weren't ready to delay their end-of-season festival, but the "Of Men and Mavericks" film crew jumped at the chance to film the swell.

Greg Long climbs up on Maverick's infamous rock stage as filming for the Jay Moriarity bio pic came to a close.

"It's not unusual to see moderately large surf in the spring, but this was the largest in many years, due mainly to its strength and very close proximity to the coast," said Sponsler. "This one was stronger than most this year, with winds at 55 knots and seas pushing 37 feet, resulting in large but unruly surf along the coast."

The film, "Of Men and Mavericks," the story of Jay Morarity is slated to be released in October of this year, so they needed to wrap up the big wave shooting sequences. The hope was to film all the Maverick's footage actually at Maverick's, but the abbreviated big wave season proved challenging for the second unit. They we're out on the best days and have some epic footage but plan on moving south to fill in the gaps.

They've already completed some filming down in Fox Studios Baja, home of the famous water tanks used to film such blockbuster features like "Titanic" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

In one particular scene using one of the massive water tanks had Ryan Augenstein, one of the Jay Moriarity doubles, was attached to a leash being drug around in circles by a jet ski simulating a big-wave beat down. Even for a veteran Maverick's charger, Augustine admitted it was a bit hairy being attached to the ski and being drug around underwater. On Sunday there was no need to simulate turbulent water at Maverick's. Augenstein and Greg Long, both stunt doubles, were tasked with recreating Moriarity's famous wipeout, being dumped off in the cauldron, swimming out and climbing up on rocks while getting pounded by waves.

Everybody was getting into the act, even the kite surfers.

Although paddle surfing on Sunday was out of the question due to the tight intervals, gusty winds and six-foot cross chop these are exactly the conditions extreme kite boarders froth over. French kiters, Frederic Stemmelin and Jean-marc Mommessin made their way out to the line-up to whip into a couple of bombs.

"The waves were all over the place," stated Jean-Marc Mommessin. "I managed to get into a couple of big ones."

Thanks to the filming, the kiters were stoked to have an entire safety contingent out there when they showed up. Usually on these days with these conditions they're on their own.

There was plenty of swell left over on Monday and the movie crew was back out in force. Conditions early on were beautiful. Mavericks Invitational Competitors and Mavs regulars Ryan Seelbach, Alex Martins and Matt Schutte all bagged some bombs, taking full advantage of the what will probably be the last swell of the season. Or will it?