Big-wave contest or not, Mavericks festival a go 

click to enlarge A series of storms forecast for the Bay Area could provide the right conditions for great waves. - REUTERS PHOTO
  • Reuters photo
  • A series of storms forecast for the Bay Area could provide the right conditions for great waves.

With less than three weeks left to call Mavericks, organizers say a festival new to the big-wave event this year will go on even if Mother Nature does not provide the swells necessary to hold the surf contest.

A festival is planned in Half Moon Bay — which is only miles from the world-famous surf break — that will air the contest live on jumbo screens, in an effort to keep spectators off dangerous cliffs near the water. But even if a contest is never called, the festival — complete with highlights from past events, entertainment and an awards ceremony with would-be contestants — will still happen.

“It’s the end of the season,” said Jessica Banks, a spokeswoman for the Mavericks Invitational. “We still want to celebrate big-wave surfing”

The festival will be held March 31 if no contest is called, Banks said. If one is called, she said, it will coincide with the competition.

Mavericks was last held in 2010.

Organizers are still hopeful they can hold the competition. Mother Nature might finally help this week, as a series of storms is lining up to pummel the West Coast with rain, according to the National Weather Service.

The best swells are expected Friday or Saturday, forecaster Diana Henderson said Monday.

“We can’t tell if they’re going to hold the contest or not,” Henderson said. “But we could see swells up to 15 feet Friday going into Saturday.”

Banks said in addition to the right waves — 15- to 20-foot swells are ideal — organizers look for safe weather and a reasonable interval between swells.

“We had some guys out there waiting 45 minutes for swells,” Banks said of recent Mavericks conditions. “That doesn’t work too well if you’ve got a 45-minute heat and you’re waiting 40 minutes for a wave.”

Banks said she and contest director Jeff Clark are watching storms closely and remain optimistic.

“It doesn’t seem like winter is over yet and with Mother Nature and the ocean, anything is possible,” Clark said in a statement.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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