Big changes coming to Mavericks Surf Contest

January 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Major changes are coming this year to Maverick's surf competition, if and when it happens. Surfers from all over the world are invited to the competition and the window is now open.

To some it's considered tradition to watch the Mavericks Surf Contest from area beaches and bluffs, but this year it will all be off limits. Instead, people will be directed to a hotel parking lot for a viewing party and festival.

"This contest has completely changed," said Rocky Raynor, a Mavericks surf organizer.

Mavericks 2012 will be unlike any other. The big waves and the big name surfers will still be there, but the crowds that historically descend on the beach and on the bluffs will not.

"It's a safety issue we have," said Scott Lombardi from San Mateo County Parks.

Mavericks organizers are trying to stop a repeat of a disaster during the 2010 competition where strong waves swept up on Mavericks beach. More than a dozen people were hurt.

"It wasn't a rogue wave. It was one of those things that needed to be planned for and they didn't have anybody to plan for it," said Jeff Clark from Mavericks Invitational Inc. "That will never happen again."

Now that Mavericks founder Jeff Clark is once again in charge of the event, he's making changes. Spectators also normally line the cliffs above Mavericks. They will be banned. Many have fallen and ruined vegetation.

"If you are going to come up there and try to view from the bluff, we will ask you to leave," said Lombardi.

"There will be event staff, there will be hard barricades, soft barricades and road closures," said Lt. Lisa Williams from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.

Surf fans will be directed to Princeton-By-the-Sea's downtown to a first of its kind festival. A JumboTron with be streaming video of the competition will be set up in the Oceano Hotel and Spa's parking lot. Local businesses couldn't be happier, especially since there was no Mavericks competition in 2011.

"It was not a particularly good season. It would have been beneficial for all the businesses in the area," said Mike Laffen from the Half Moon Bay Brewery Company.

But not everyone is happy about the change in traditions.

"It's really a big bummer for the local people who like to hang out and meet everybody and hang on the bluffs," said Danielle Mickelson, a Moss Beach resident.

Cars with special permits will be allowed to drive through town. Everyone else has to park at the nearby airport and walk.