The Mavericks Invitational Contest, presented by GoPro, is on.
A more than "24 hour" notice has been called and contestants and alternates from Brazil, Hawaii, Southern California, and South Africa are making travel arrangements. Veterans from Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Pacifica will make the drive to surf one of the gnarliest waves in the world.
Officials Wednesday declared Sunday, Jan. 20, game day for the Mavericks Invitational, a world-renowned big-wave surf contest.
Mark Sponsler, the official swell forecaster for the contest predicts, "A strong storm producing 60 foot seas. A solid, very long period swell."
This is a big deal for the coast, as it has not held a Mavericks contest since 2010 because Mother Nature failed to produce ideal conditions.
"We're really excited that we actually have a swell," contest co-founder Jeff Clark said. "This is the biggest swell we've had for a couple years."
This weekend's event will bring to coastal shores 24 expert surfers and a ton of fanfare.
The two-dozen chosen surfers are those deemed most skilled from around the world. The contest is held a half-mile off the coast of Half Moon Bay at the Mavericks break.
Contest conditions are extreme, with waves in past years as high as 50 feet, strong currents, frigid water and jagged rocks. Clark said the conditions are extremely dangerous, and the surfers put to good use their year-round training regimens.
When asked how high the waves from this swell will be, Clark immediately responded "big."
"We're hoping for at least 30-foot range, but the ocean does what it wants and it's not going to give you that perfect storm every year," he said.
Spectators will be at a loss. They won't be able to line the shore as they did in the past. The contest can be seen online or in Half Moon Bay at the Maverick's Festival. This is in response to a swell that knocked watchers off a ledge and injured some and overcrowding that was doing damage to the cliffs.
— Bay City News
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Additional reporting by Christa Bigue.