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Pillar Point Harbor Serves as Incident Command Post at Mavericks Contest

With big crowds and a storm-generated swell expected on Sunday for the Mavericks surfing competition, area agencies are ready to implement their plans for public safety.

With the Mavericks Invitational 2012-2103 surf contest called within just a few days notice, there’s a lot of planning going on at Pillar Point Harbor to prepare for the event.

Contest organizers Wednesday declared Sunday, Jan. 20, for the world’s premier big wave surf contest with a huge swell — the largest Half Moon Bay has seen in years — forecasted for the day.

At the last contest in 2010, it was estimated that more than 40,000 people descended on the Coastside, according to Cary Smith, deputy harbormaster for the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol, so a huge part of those preparations include implementing safety measures.

“The Mavericks Invitational has their own water safety team so additional assets will be in support of spectator safety for boats, and human powered craft, and to separate the contest zone and the viewing area,” said Smith.

To get ready for the event, the San Mateo County Harbor District engaged in recent training efforts.

“The team was joined by U.S. Coast Guard, State Parks, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and Fish and Game — all ready to serve,” said Scott Grindy, harbormaster for the San Mateo County Harbor District (SMCHD). “We really appreciate the overall team effort from all the support agencies, Mavericks folks, and GoPro for working with us to make this event a great success. This is going to be a great event for all."

On Sunday, the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol will lead the marine branch on the water and will serve as the incident command post. Waterside assets from the SMCHD Pillar Point Harbor Patrol include the use of water rescue vessels with fire and paramedics on board. Allied agencies include the U.S. Coast Guard with an 87-foot patrol boat and two 47-foot motor lifeboats from stations Golden Gate and Bodega Bay. The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and California State Park Lifeguards will also have rescue watercraft.

Should there be any search and rescue or mass event, the agency assets will assume their roles and the event will be paused and/or canceled, according to the Pillar Point Harbor Patrol officials.

Landside assistance will come from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which will also be assisting with parking control in the area.

Many of the charter vessels at Pillar Point Harbor will be carrying spectators to view the event from the water as the beach and access to the cliffs at Mavericks will be closed to the public. There may be additional charter boats coming down from the San Francisco Bay.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office along with San Mateo County Parks and Mavericks Invitational staff will be enforcing the closure.

The main location for the event will be the Oceano Hotel, where there will be a festival and contest viewing, anticipated to be greater than 5,000 people. Details on how to get there and where to park can be found here.

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