SAN FRANCISCO

Jeff Clark, Founder Of Mavericks Surf Competition, Wins Suit Against Company He Started

08/04/2011 02:24 pm ET | Updated Oct 04, 2011

Just as the action surrounding Half Moon Bay's world-famous Mavericks surfing competition is about to heat up in the water, the activity on dry land looks like it's coming to a close.

Earlier this week, a superior court judge in San Francisco ruled that Mavericks Surf Ventures breached its contract with co-founder Jeff Clark after the surfing legend parted ways with the company last year.

Clark filed a lawsuit in January 2010 against Mavericks Surf Ventures Inc. (MSV), the company he co-founded to run the Mavericks Surf Contest, and its directors Keir Beadling and Mark Dwight. The complaint, filed with the Superior Court of San Francisco County, stated that MSV breached its contracts with Clark, withheld payments on those contracts, and breached its fiduciary duties to shareholders by the Board’s self-dealing, squandering of corporate assets and failure to disclose basic financial and other corporate information.

"I've waited patiently and remained quiet in an effort to settle our issues in private, without casting a shadow over the contest that I founded," said Clark in a press release he sent out after filing the suit last year. "But it's obvious MSV has no intention of working this out. They have forced me to file suit in order to move on with my life."

Even with this legal issue settled, the future of the surf competition remains mired in controversy.

Both Clark and Mavericks Community LLC, a group led by Clark's ex-wife, are fighting for control of the event. The San Mateo County Harbor District, the body authorized to issue a permit allowing one of the groups to hold the event, has twice postponed a hearing determining who would run Mavericks next year. However, the two groups have given recent indications that they may be amenable to operating the event jointly.

The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for August 17th.

Held more or less annually since 1999, Mavericks is a big-wave competition where two dozen of the world's best surfers are summoned to ride some of the biggest waves on the West Cost. They're given only 48 hours notice to fly in from all over the world because the event is held when conditions are just right--something that can change at the drop of a hat.

Clark is credited with discovering the spot where Mavericks is held, a thrill-seeking surfers' paradise. He had been riding waves on the site for well over decade before organizing an official competition.

In 2010, a six-foot rouge wave unexpectedly washed 40 feet inland during the competition, injuring a dozen of the thousands of onlookers hunkered down on the rocky hillside hoping to catch a glimpse of the action. Since then, organizers have clamped down on spectators: Now, spectators can only watch the event on television or on the big screen at AT&T Park, where a viewing event is held concurrently with the competition.

Litigation isn't the only drama Clark has experienced lately. Just this week, he had a close call with a Great White Shark at Montara State Beach. The Chronicle reports:

"I got out of the water today and as I was starting to drive away, the biggest shark that I have seen in the water went buzzing through the lineup, 10 feet of back , distinct dorsal, moving straight across the surface of the water," said Clark.

"My leash had come off 10 minutes earlier, swam in, stretched and was going to go back out, the winds turned onshore, stoked on what I had got so I decided to leave, or someone watching over me decided it was time to leave. Listen to your instinct."

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