Mavericks will be held this Saturday

Anthony Tashnick hangs on during the semifinal heat of the Mavericks Surf Competition, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

February 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It's finally a go. The long anticipated Mavericks Surf Contest is set for this Saturday. So now, 24 of the best surfers in the world are on their way here to compete for the record $150,000 prize. And Half Moon Bay is buzzing about the big waves and the big money they bring in.

The votes are in, the boards are stacked up, and today the ocean at Pillar Point was flat.

No worries -- Jeff Clark the founder of the Mavericks Surf Contest predicts the waves will be here by Saturday.

"There is a storm coming because we can see through the satellite imagery that, that low pressure has dropped that big stone in the ocean and boom here come the ripples," says Clark.

The CEO of the organization that puts on the event says the conditions will be optimal.

"I think what our surfers and our forecasters are looking at is really huge surf, potentially 50-foot faces," says Keir Beadiling from Mavericks Surf Ventures.

Twenty-four invited surfers will be on their way from different parts of the world after voting at midday to hold the event.

For Clark, it is a bitter sweet moment. In June he was ousted as director of the event.

"Now it's being coddled by those who, I don't think, really know what they have," says Clark.

But businesses near Pillar Point were thrilled to hear the event was on, since last year's Mavericks contest was canceled because the swells were not big enough.

Mike Laffen is one of the owners of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

"Cars park on Highway 1, people start showing up at four in the morning," says Laffen.

Mavericks is a one-day event, but it has a huge economic impact on local businesses.

"We get people who come after the contest looking where it was and that goes on for months," says Laffen.

It can go on even longer than that. A 2009 University of Hawaii study found the total economic benefit from the Mavericks Surf Contest is close to $24 million a year.

This Saturday fans, for $20-$25, can watch the contest in high definition on the big screen at AT&T Park. People at home can also watch the contest online. The competition starts at 8 a.m.