Peter Mel rides a Maverick’s wave in 2010. (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)

Longtime Santa Cruz resident and pro big wave surfer Peter Mel, who now lives in Newport Beach, was honored Sunday as the Big Wave World Tour champion for the 2011-2012 season.

Mel won the tour’s Pico Alto-Copa Burn contest near Lima, Peru, in August. With two of the four tour events either canceled or not held, Mel’s finish in Peru went a long way toward keeping him atop the standings.

He was honored in a ceremony Sunday on a yacht with a live band off the Oceanside coast. Four generations of the Mel family were present, as well as many big names in the surfing community who came out for the occasion.

“I’m honored, and speechless,” Mel was quoted saying in a press release.

Zach Wormhoudt, another big wave surfer with Santa Cruz ties, was the opposite of speechless: “It is about time that Peter Mel officially claims the title of Big Wave World Champion!  This is such a long overdue crowning; as Peter’s surfing and accomplishments in the big wave arena have been that of a world champion for well over twenty years.  Peter has inspired his peers and fans of big wave surfing with his courage, endurance, consistency, and controlled style.  It is great to see official acknowledgment of such an amazing ambassador of our sport.”

Always stoked to surf with Pete as long as it is not in a heat!”

— Christina Gullickson, on Twitter @CGullTweets