Mavericks surfing contest window opens


Surfers and organizers on Friday planned an opening ceremony and paddle out at the break to mark the season's opening.

Each year, wave forecasters wait for the right combination of swell and weather between early November and the end of March. When conditions are just right, the call goes out to 24 of the world's most daring big wave surfers, who get a day's notice to fly to the Half Moon Bay area to compete.

The big wave break off of Pillar Point is one of the world's most dangerous - legendary Hawaiian surfer Mark Foo died there in 1994, and in 2011 experienced waterman Sion Milosky died during a session.

"They all talk personally about what this all means to them and it's very special. It's sacred," said Rocky Raynor.

Raynor is the president and CEO of Mavericks. He's confident this year's conditions will be ideal. The last time they were able hold the contest was in February of 2010.

"We're going to pull it off this year. The meteorologists, in fact your meteorologist in fact, said it looks really good," said Rocky Raynor, the Mavericks president.

The waves are dangerous, even for spectators, so the beach is only for emergency crews.

"You're going to view it at the Oceano Hotel and we're having a festival there and that's where we're going to have big screen TVs. The surfers will come in and talk to everybody after they're done with their heats," said Raynor.

About 30,000 to 40,000 people are expected to attend the event and that's exactly what the folks at Italian restaurant Mezzaluna like to hear. Big crowds mean a boost in business and they say it doesn't take much to get people hooked on Half Moon Bay.

"Once they get here, then you got them, it's like going fishing," said Carmen Gagliardi from Mezza Luna.

KGO contributed to this report.

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