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VIDEO: Surfers Open Mavericks With Prayers, Ceremonial Paddle Out

Contest competitors, alternates and former champions from around the world celebrated the beginning of the 2011-2012 contest in Half Moon Bay.

Top surfers from Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and around the world opened the big wave surf contest on Friday with prayers and a paddle out at Mavericks Beach just outside Half Moon Bay.

Seventeen competitors, alternates, and former Mavericks contest champions participated in the ceremony, including 3-time winner and now-retired Darryl "Flea" Virostko from Santa Cruz.

Other opening ceremonies participants came from South Africa, Australia and Brazil. Hawaii's Kohl Christensen wore a "Live Like Sion" shirt commemorating , the surfer who traveled from Hawaii and while riding Mavericks' last big waves of the 2010-2011 winter season.

San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and State Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) provided opening remarks, while Mavericks Invitational CEO Rocky Raynor presented each surfer with a ceremonial ti leaf and led the group in an opening prayer.

Afterwards, the group completed the opening ceremonies by paddling out to form a prayer circle on the water modeled after the Hawaiian tradition. The greater Half Moon Bay community also participated in the paddle out and prayer circle, including members of the and and Half Moon Bay resident Mike Alifano.

Adding to the afternoon's excitement was the buzz of a helicopter flying over the surf break, blufftops and beach filming , the Hollywood film portrayal of Mavericks surfer Jay Moriarity starring Gerard Butler. The film has been since October.

and Mavericks veteran Jeff Clark was not at the ceremony. Clark was reportedly out on the break working with the crew as they filmed scenes from the movie.

On Friday evening, surfers celebrated into the evening at a dinner and party at the in Princeton. They also drew their heat position for the day of the contest. Results are as follows:

1st Heat
Carlos Burle
*Shane Desmond
Tyler Smith
*Ben Wilkinson
*Chris Bertish
*Ken Collins

2nd Heat
Nathan Fletcher
Matt Ambrose
Grant Baker
Mark Healy
*Anthony Tashnick
*Ryan Seelbach

3rd Heat
Dave Wassel
Rusty Long
*Shawn Dollar
Ryan Augenstein
Jamie Sterling
Zach Wormhoudt

4th Heat
Shane Dorian
Grant Washburn
*Alex Martins
Kelly Slater
Greg Long
Peter Mel

*=present at opening ceremony and paddle out at Mavericks Beach

See coverage of last year's Mavericks opening ceremonies on Half Moon Bay Patch .

To receive news feeds about Half Moon Bay and the unincorporated Coastside between Montara and Pescadero, visit Half Moon Bay Patch on Facebook and "like" us here. Follow us on Twitter here.

nancy strachan west January 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Thank you for the great video Kristine! Since I am house bound these days, it was wonderful to experience the ceremony through your video. Brava!
Kristine Wong January 10, 2012 at 07:11 PM
You're very welcome, Nancy — I'm glad you enjoyed it. More video to come from Half Moon Bay youth surfers and community leaders at the event.

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