Santa Cruz Surfer Is Big Wave Champion

San Francisco Chronicle

It wasn't the greatest Mavericks surf contest ever held, but it will rank among the most memorable. Such is the power of a historical landmark. Sweet recognition finally came to Peter Mel, whose years of big-wave performance set the standard at the fabled, dangerous break off Half Moon Bay.

When Mel was announced the winner of Sunday's event, held in powerful but inconsistent waves up to 30 feet, it was a cherished moment for anyone familiar with the spot's colorful history. He's 43 now, with a 9-to-5 job that takes him away from his beloved Santa Cruz, and he had bitter memories about the contest now known as the Mavericks Invitational.

Some bad luck here, perhaps an errant ride or a questionable judging call there - nothing ever seemed to click for Mel dating...

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