Mavericks Surf Contest Might Start Friday

By Kris Sanchez
|  Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014  |  Updated 7:35 AM PDT
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Surfers from around the world are making their way to the Bay Area in anticipation of the Mavericks big wave surf contest. Kris Sanchez reports.

Surfers from around the world are making their way to the Bay Area in anticipation of the Mavericks big wave surf contest. Kris Sanchez reports.

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Surfers from around the world are making their way to the Bay Area in anticipation of the Mavericks big wave surf contest. The contest hasn't been called yet, but all signs point to Friday morning.

Organizers could decide Wednesday morning whether to pull the trigger on the Mavericks Invitational. They’ll consider the scientific models and what big wave surfers say about the conditions.

One surfer Tuesday said wiping out in conditions like these feels like getting trampled by a herd of elephants.

“Today was a really extreme day at Mavericks, 30-40 feet and as challenging as it gets,” surfer Rusty Long said.

The high surf advisory in effect is a warning to most of us to steer clear of the beach, but it’s a siren’s call to the world’s greatest surfers.

Some of them are already in the water off Half Moon Bay warming up for the Mavericks Invitational they expect will be called for Friday morning.

“If this is a little indication of what’s to come Friday, this is something really special because Friday’s supposed to be even bigger than today,” Long said.

Organizers and sponsors Body Glove and GoPro issued a “standby” on Tuesday and are watching the weather models to see if the weather system creating epic surf will hold for the next 48 hours.

“Right now, waves look big, seas look good, winds looks good, seas look great,” said the Xpreshon Big Wave World Tour’s Rusty Gibson. “But we don’t want to make that final call until we are certain of that, and that’s a very tricky thing.”

Gibson doesn’t expect 50-foot faces like in 2010, when a wave wiped out spectators watching from shore.

This year – as last year – all roads leading to Maverick’s Point will be closed to the public, but a festival is planned for the grounds of the Oceano Hotel & Spa, complete with a live feed of the action on the Jumbotron, food and beer.

“We’re going to see some terrific rides, and some guys taking some pretty terrific wipeouts,” Gibson said. “But they’re ready.”

They’ve been training. Half of the 24 surfers on the bracket are locals from San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Pacifica. But some are coming from as far away as Australia, Brazil and South Africa, looking to win the biggest title in big wave surfing.

“Mavericks is the ultimate test,” said Grant “Twiggy” Baker, the 2006 Mavericks winner. “They call it the Super Bowl of surfing and that’s exactly what it is. It’s the one we all want to win.”

The surf contest is expected to begin Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Tickets for the festival are $15-$20, or you can watch a live feed online. In addition to broadcast coverage, the entire contest will stream live on universalsports.com and mavericksinvitational.com.

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