Window of opportunity is opening for Mavericks surf contest

Getty Images File PhotoThe El Niño weather pattern is expected to bring stronger waves to Pillar Point beach near Half Moon Bay.

Getty Images File PhotoThe El Niño weather pattern is expected to bring stronger waves to Pillar Point beach near Half Moon Bay.

The window for the Mavericks Invitational surf contest will officially open Friday.

The big-wave competition gives 24 contestants 24 hours of notice to arrive at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay to surf some of the world’s largest and most elusive waves. The window closes March 31.

The last Mavericks contest was held in 2010.

Organizers will host an opening ceremony Friday on the Pillar Point beach, and they hope this season will bring bigger swells than last year.

“All we need is a good swell to hit in a month or two,” said Jessica Banks, spokeswoman for the Mavericks Invitational. “And all things are pointing to a yes.”

Last year brought a La Niña winter to Northern California, which typically does not produce strong swells. This year, however, forecasters are predicting more of an El Niño pattern, which could bring stronger and larger waves to the coast. And that’s good news for organizers.

“I have all the confidence, the board has all the confidence and the guys have all the confidence,” Banks said. “Now it’s all up to Mother Nature.”

In addition to the waves, Banks said the invitational will be set up similar to last year, if a contest had been called.

That means roads to the lookout and cliffs many surf enthusiasts had used to catch a glimpse of the action will be closed. But there will be a festival in Half Moon Bay the day of the contest. Patrons also can purchase a spot on a boat for a better view.

In the event a contest is not called, a festival will still be held and all tickets will provide admission to the festivities.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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