Extreme Exposure: Mavericks champ Baker suspended; lost at sea; more
Welcome back to another edition of Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. This week, Mavericks defending champ Grant “Twiggy” Baker is banned from the contest, Maine’s Sunday River is first ski resort to open and more.
Big Wave Drama
The Titans of Mavericks contest window has officially opened (Nov. 1- March 31) and it wouldn’t be big wave season without the requisite drama to go along with it. And for some reason, organized surf events at the famed surf spot near Half Moon Bay, California south of San Francisco have always had loads of it, as we reported this summer. This time, Titans officials have suspended defending champion Grant “Twiggy” Baker from this year’s event.
Stab magazine reported that Baker and the Committee 5—the group that makes the call on who gets in and when the contest runs—had a falling out after Baker distributed a petition to get former champion Peter Mel reinstated into the contest. Mel, who is the Big Wave World Tour commissioner, an entity run by the World Surf League, which last spring, tried to nab a Mavericks permit of their own, was banned from the contest because of a “conflict of interest.” In typical surf-industry fashion, explanations of Baker’s ban were convoluted as few in that world like to air their grievances publicly—a commendable trait, by the way. Jeff Clark (part of the Committee 5) told Stab that Baker had, “put other athletes’ and their involvement at risk by being associated with a petition that was (circulated) on behalf of Mr. Baker to challenge the C5’s decision on matters pertaining to the framework of their event protocol for the selection process.”
Huh? Griffin Guess, who owns Cartel Management (which runs the event) did not immediately return a request for comment. Baker was understandably disappointed. "Even though the punishment seems harsh,” he told SI.com, “I accept the decision of the event organizers and continue to support the Mavericks contest. I hope nothing further affects the event negatively, as this would be unfair to the other surfers involved. These contests should be about who is invited rather then who isn't." True, but this is the defending champion we’re talking about. Sometimes, it feels like big wave contest organizers just can’t seem to get out of their own way.
Looking forward to another wave like this soon, hopefully in the new and improved @titansofmavericks event. I would never have dreamed I would get a chance to equal the great @fleahab 's record but I'm going to give it my best shot. Come on El Niño!! ModelT 10'0" twigsurfboards.com 📹 @moblowitz #kikflisurfchallenge
Missing at Sea
With Waimea Bay, Jaws and Mavericks lighting up this week with early winter swells, the big wave season has already claimed its first victim. Longtime North Shore charger Alec Cooke disappeared at Waimea Bay last week when he entered the water in the late afternoon. He never returned and his dog was found waiting in his truck early the next morning. Cooke—known as “Ace Cool”—was boisterous and flamboyant, but he went as hard as anyone during his prime. In 1985 he jumped out of a helicopter during a gigantic swell to become the first to ride Pipeline’s outer reefs. A photo of him riding a wave from that session was printed on postcards and sold throughout the islands for most of the following decade. He was always pushing the envelope, as he told Matt Warshaw and the Encyclopedia of Surfing. “I was one of the first extreme surfers,” he said. “I flew out to ride huge outer reef waves by helicopter, with a mini-oxygen tank and a special 12-foot board. Nobody else was doing that. The Ace Cool Era was in full swing during the ‘80s.” Sadly, that era is most likely over, as Cooke—one of Oahu’s most colorful characters—is still missing.
Unfortunately it appears that the inimitable, one and only Alec Cooke - aka #acecool - disappeared and went to #dabigbluewave in the afterlife. So it goes. He probably wouldn't have had it any other way. Ironically, Ace and I shared the dubious honor of being fellow #alumni of the esteemed pillar of intellectual cultivation and advancement: Hawaii Loa College (also unfortunately no longer with us). Ace showed up at my first luau back in 1988 and gave me some postcards (one of which I still have) of him charging the "biggest wave." Say what you will about him, he was loud, pushy, and boisterous, but he also #charged. Aloha, Ace, see you on the outside.
A Matter of Chance
Shedding light on one of the most randomly violent acts to rock the climbing community in recent memory, a drug-addicted teen has confessed to the 2013 shooting of Luis Mosquera in the Ten Sleep Canyon area, a beautiful climbing destination in northern Wyoming. Jose Luis Mosquera, an Ecuadorian climber, and his girlfriend Ana Deaconu, were traveling and climbing the western US, living the dirtbag lifestyle when they arrived in Ten Sleep. The couple was awakened during the night by tree branches and debris hitting their tent. When Mosquera went out to check on the noise he was shot by Jesus Deniz, 18, who, according to Climbing magazine, confessed to the shootings while being interviewed by federal agents about a separate shooting incident in Montana where two victims were killed. Mosquera was shot in the chest area and suffered a punctured lung and broke several ribs while racking up a mountain of medical debt. “We don't hold this against the community of Ten Sleep," Deaconu said. "It's one crazy person among plenty of nice people…. It just seems unfair that you save up to travel to a foreign country, get shot, and now have to pay $50,000."
Winter is On!
The race to be the first ski resort to open for the winter is over. And it isn’t a Colorado resort like Loveland or Arapahoe Basin. No, this year Main’s Sunday River in Newry took the title when it opened runs on October 19 as snow-lined runs outlined New England’s spectacular fall colors. And according to resort officials, “October 19th never skied so good.”