The Titans of Mavericks big wave surf contest taking place since 1999 in Half Moon Bay has been on a hiatus since the organizers filed for bankruptcy in 2017. However, the competition is returning and 24 of the best professional surfers on the planet (including a number of local Bay Area surfers) are standing by for the official go-ahead, which can happen any day now and run through February 28th.
All eyes are on the weather forecast, and a storm in the Pacific along with the location's underwater geography combine to create some the world's biggest and most dangerous waves – but the conditions have to be right for the competition to occur safely. As a result, no one knows when the big wave will reach their peak, and the conditions safe, or when it will be held until just 24 hours before it starts. It could even be a dud. in some years the waves never got big enough to hold the surfing contest. So competitors and event crew all need to be ready to mobilize on a moment's notice and get there within 48 hours. So planning ahead of time to participate, host or view the event is problematic. But then again, that's all part of the charm of Mavericks.
The invitational surf contest was acquired by The World Surf League, and renamed the Mavericks Challenge as part of it's 2018 Big Wave Surfing Tour. This is the first year that both men and women can compete in this premiere, high adrenaline, big wave surfing event with massive waves reaching up to 60 feet high.
Unfortunately, you can no longer view the event in person on location at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay due to permit restrictions – it has become too dangerous to spectators due to the unpredictable nature of the giant waves. So bring binoculars if you plan to come to the area – you won't get very close. There are a number of local bars, restaurants and businesses streaming the event live where you can view all the action. The Mavericks Challenge will also be streamed live on on WorldSurfLeague.com with multiple angles from the water, cliff and sky. Keep checking the website for updates and anticipated start date for this season.
During the rest of the winter off-season, you can easily check out some pretty large and impressive swells at from Pillar Point Harbor; usually best anywhere from November 1 - March 31. Pillar Point is located about 25 miles south of San Francisco, and 53 miles from Santa Cruz. You can get there by taking CA Hwy 92 or CA Hwy 1 south from San Francisco or north from Santa Cruz.
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