Catch the big waves from the bleachers

While big waves may not be the giants that come to mind at AT&T Park, a new plan to televise Northern California’s preeminent big-wave surfing contest live at the stadium could change all that.

Expanding the live Web cast of the Mavericks surfing competition, which was successful on a small scale in a parking lot in February, became a priority after huge crowds managed to dislodge part of a bluff that fell and injured a woman, officials said.

In recent months park rangers, harbor officials and the sheriff have worked with promoter Maverick Surf Ventures to come up with a plan to improve crowd control and spectator viewing in the area. An estimated 40,000 people flooded the coast around Princeton, north of Half Moon Bay, this past winter during the competition, jockeying for parking and tramping on wetlands.

The answer: a live Web cast over the big screen at AT&T Park, according to San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon.

With all the action taking place more than one-quarter mile off the coast and binoculars or a telescope necessary for up close viewing, a well trained camera team should be able to deliver some of the best views around, while allowing fans to avoid the traffic, officials said. “[AT&T Park] is far away, but it’s pretty cool for people who don’t make it down that way,” said surfer Jeremiah Johnson, manager at NorCal Surf Shop in nearby Pacifica.

By catching the show in San Francisco, spectators will miss out on the atmosphere that comes with seeing the surfers when they come ashore, but avoiding the nasty traffic snarls and parking headache might be worth it for some people, Johnson said.

Mavericks, founded by Half Moon Bay surf shop owner Jeff Clark, is held each year some time between January through March, weather conditions permitting. Two-dozen top surfers, mostly local, are notified 24 hours in advance when the wind and surf combine to create the perfect day of waves, according to Doug Epstein, event promoter.

In addition to offering a live feed at AT&T Park and charging $20 for advance tickets, Maverick Surf Ventures is negotiating with the Half Moon Bay Airport to provide parking, said Mark Larson, airport manager. Fans who do show up would be shuttled from parking areas at the airport and county Harbor District headquarters to viewing areas.

Also new, authorities plan to block off streets to Princeton-by-the-Sea — the closest viewing area — to parking, after locals complained their driveways were blocked in February, said Sheriff’s Lt. Steven Shively. A combined command post will be set up at the Sheriff’s substation in Moss Beach to oversee the multiple agencies involved in the event, from paramedics to the U.S. Coast Guard, Shively said.

Clark did not return calls for comment.

Weigh in

» To hear more about plans for Mavericks, residents are invited to a public hearing where Supervisor Rich Gordon, the event promoter and safety personnel will present their proposals and listen to concerns. The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4. at 7 p.m. at the Harbor House Conference Center, 346 Princeton Ave., Princeton-by-the-Sea.

-Source: Office of Supervisor Rich Gordon

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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