Surfers will get to vote when to hold Mavericks

December 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There is a swell forming off the coast that could bring waves worthy of the Mavericks Surf Contest next week. The event had to be canceled last year due to the lack of good waves. So, this time fingers are crossed.

The waters off the Pacific Ocean are calm now, but big waves are headed to the Bay Area, perhaps big enough for what organizers say is needed for the Mavericks Surf Contest. They're hoping for 20-foot swells possibly as early as Tuesday.

"We have to have a day that provides us with solid surf for about 6.5 hours, consistent surf thought the day for 6.5 hours. We need it to be favorable winds, not undesirable winds," says Katherine Clark, the contest co-director.

Mavericks has been held off and on since 1999 just north of Half Moon Bay. In years past, the director made the call as to whether conditions were good enough to hold an event, but this year the competition is taking a democratic approach -- the surfers will vote.

Ryan Seelbach is among the 24 surfers chosen from around the world who'll be competing.

"We were always wondering when it was going to be called and we never knew. We'd hear rumors and so now we have one of the best surf forecasters on board, he's feeding us information, and we're kind of going by gut feel," says Seelback.

It is only a one-day event, but the mavericks surf contest has given businesses in the Half Moon Bay area a boost over the years. It's estimated that it generates over $20 million to the local economy. That is why businesses are keeping their fingers crossed that the contest will go on.

The owner of It's Italia says the whole community was disappointed when Mavericks didn't happen last year.

"It's not just about the business. It's also the spirit of our coast side. The ocean and Mavericks, the big famous gigantic wave, is something that we wait for all year long," says restaurant owner Betsy Del Fierro.

Still, if things go as surfers are predicting, the wait for Mavericks may not be for too much longer.


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