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Mavericks Invitational surf contest to be held Sunday near Half Moon Bay

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The Mavericks Invitational near Half Moon Bay hasn’t been held since 2010 because the ideal waves never materialized during the contest window.

Twenty-four big-wave surfers will paddle a half-mile out into the frigid waters off Pillar Point on Sunday to compete in the Mavericks Invitational.

Contest organizers announced Wednesday that the approaching swell will create conditions in which they can hold the contest off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

“It feels really good to be moving toward a contest with a big swell coming,” said contest organizer Jeff Clark, who is one of the first people to ever surf Mavericks.

Clark said the swell looks like it could produce 30- to 40-foot waves Sunday.

“It is going to be big and powerful,” Clark said.

Shawn Dollar, a competitor in the contest and the surfers’ representative, said in a statement that the swell could offer perfect conditions.

“This is a very powerful swell, and we will have dramatic conditions that will push the competitors to their limits,” Dollar said. “Sunday is going to be beautiful and very scary at times.”

In the past, the contest has been called with just 24 hours’ notice given to contestants, who fly in from all over the world to compete in the invite-only contest.

The past few contests were canceled because wave conditions did not materialize during the window for the event. The event has been canceled several times since it started in 1999. The last time the contest was held, in 2010, Chris Bertish of South Africa emerged as the winner after taking on waves that were 50 to 60 feet tall when measured on their faces.

The contest, which has also been the center of legal fighting over ownership, is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Sunday. People looking to catch a glimpse of the event are encouraged to attend the Mavericks Invitational Festival at the Oceano Hotel and Spa. The festival will offer video streaming of the event with commentary from an announcer. The awards ceremony will be held at the festival.

For safety reasons, law enforcement will close the roads to Pillar Point, and they will deny access to the beach and the bluff above the surfing spot during the contest.


Mavericks Invitational

  • WHEN: Sunday, 8 a.m.
  • WHERE: Half Moon Bay
  • WHERE TO WATCH: Mavericks Invitational Festival, 280 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay; event will also be streamed online
  • TICKETS: $10 advance general admission, $20 at the event; prices range to $1,000 for event packages
  • INFO: www.mavericksinvitational.com

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