Conditions have to be just right for Titans of Mavericks, the world-famous, 1999-founded surf competition at Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay. There's no fixed date or guarantee the contest will go down every year. But when the waves are ideal sometime between November and March, organizers notify the world's best surfers, giving them just 24 to 48 hours to haul ass to Mavericks.

But last week, despite ideal-seeming swells, no such call went out, worrying surfers. NBC Bay Area discovered that the delay, which could be indefinite, was prompted by financial woes. Documents obtained by the news channel show the two competition organizers, Cartel Management Inc. and Titans of Mavericks LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday.

Cartel, whose co-owners are Titans of Mavericks founder Griffin Guess and his wife Marissa Miller, a model famous for her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue appearances, lost a $1 million lawsuit in Los Angeles late last year for failure to promote a sunless tanning product and salon. The dispute over Cartel's assets uncovered unpaid bills and unpaid contest permits.

There's also another lawsuit, this one with former sponsor Red Bull, who have live-streamed the event in the past. Red Bull Media House North America filed its lawsuit against Cartel just last Friday, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, citing breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

In the fall, organizers revealed this year's planned Mavericks competition was to be the first in its history to feature women surfers. "[It] feels great knowing they know want us to be apart of this rad big-wave community,” SF surer Bianca Valenti said at the time. Now it's unlikely they'll have the chance, although women regularly surf swells off Pillar Point Harbor.

San Mateo County Harbor commissioner Sabrina Brennan told NBC Bay Area she was unsurprised by the bankruptcy filing, wagering that "there will not be a contest this year." That's a shame, says Brennan: "A lot of surfers, men and women, worked very hard to get ready for this contest... it's a real letdown to hear about these financial problems."

This morning, Cartel issued a statement to the San Jose Mercury News claiming that the bankruptcy process is "intended to preserve value and accommodate an orderly going-concern sale of its business operations.” From that statement:

Since 2014, up to $3 million has gone into developing the brand and staging the annual event, which features the world’s best surfers competing on waves that can reach 60 feet. The Chapter 11 filings by Titans of Mavericks and Cartel Management represent the culmination of a strategy designed to implement a sale of the assets and intellectual property of the companies to afford a buyer certain protections available only in bankruptcy. Titans of Mavericks intends for such a sale to ensure a smooth and swift transition of the business and operations.

According to the Mercury News, Cartel also owes $280,000 to Fox sports and $6,000 to the San Mateo Harbor District as part of a government Contract. In all, there are 49 creditors with liabilities listed between $1 million and $10 million. If that's the culmination of a strategy, it was a bad strategy.

Previously: Mavericks Surf Competition To Welcome Female Surfers For The First Time