Thousands Visit Half Moon Bay for Mavericks

The waves were not as big as expected for Mavericks, but that didn't stop the crowds from coming.

Thousands of surfing fans and big-wave enthusiasts descended on Half Moon Bay today for the Mavericks Invitational big-wave surfing contest.

By 7 a.m. Sunday, hundreds of people were already milling about the harbor, many who parked at the Half Moon Bay Airport. The airport parking lot had people from many regional areas, including Los Angeles and San Diego as well as Oregon and Washington states, many who drove all night to get here. 

By noon, organizers declared the Mavericks Festival at the Oceano Hotel as sold out. Only those with pre purchased tickets were admitted into the event. The line to get in wrapped around the parking lot and traffic was down Highway 1. The festival accommodated more than 10,000 people with live music, food, beer, and live video coverage of the contest. The Princeton area was still open to the public, as was Pillar Point Harbor.

"We're really pleased to be here in Half Moon Bay today," said Floyd Smith, custom surfboard shaper from Santa Cruz who was at the Mavericks Invitational Festival shaping a board out of balsa wood from Ecuador. "This is the most excitement I've seen around surfing in a really long time, and we're really enjoying ourselves, from the novice to some of the guys like myself who have been around over the years. Looking forward to many more years of the contest."

Clear skies and temperatures in the 60s have made ideal conditions for heading to the coast and enjoying the competition, which went off without a hitch, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

An estimated 30,000 people traveled to Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point Harbor and Princeton-By-The-Sea to check out the competition at the Mavericks break, sheriff's spokeswoman Rebecca Rosenblatt said.

"The festival filled up and the competition appears to be going well," Rosenblatt said. "Everyone is being really cooperative and having a good time."

While weather conditions were expected to remain fair for the remainder of the day, National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin said that that the waves had not been coming in as high as expected.

Most waves were cresting between 7 and 10 feet at locations along the coast, Benjamin said, with the highest waves at Mavericks reaching just over 15 feet.

A high surf advisory that went into effect around the Bay Area on Saturday was expected to expire today at about 4 p.m., Benjamin said.

The sheriff's office reported no arrests as of 2 p.m. and reported that no one had trespassed on the fragile bluffs above the break that were closed to the public this year for safety reasons, Rosenblatt said.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported no incidents on the water associated with the contest.

Additional reporting by Bay City News

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Where you there? What did you think of the Mavericks Invitational Festival? Tell us in the comments.

Jo March January 21, 2013 at 12:30 AM
We went over to check out the festival. It totally sucked. Waited on line for 30 mins to get into the event. Waited on one food line for 15 minutes before they ran out of food. Went over to another line. Waited another 15 minutes before they, too, ran out of food. Watched the jumbo screen for some action but saw none. The very best part of the day was the bike ride to/from. Total organizer fail. Would never go again.
Rali Bakita January 21, 2013 at 03:32 AM
It was a big disappointment!!!! One hour to park in a prepaid parking.....; 40 min to get in the festival....: only to find out that is packed to the brim.... No food and no drinks:-(! Not coming back with my family ever again!!!
Krista Kessler January 21, 2013 at 04:03 AM
Even the live feed sucked. It seemed like the server couldn't handle the traffic (what do you expect when we can't see it in person?). It took a while to actually load the page, and when I did, it cut out a ton.
nancy b. January 21, 2013 at 05:21 PM
This is one of those events that you have to get to close to when it starts. 8am, negative commenters, not noon or 1pm.
Catherine Richards January 21, 2013 at 11:53 PM
The Live Festival over-promised and under-delivered. I suspect the revenue generated will indicate a success, but that would be the short term view. Organizers and city planners: please make the necessary improvements so fans will support Mavericks in future years. By concentrating on improving the user experience, you will be making an investment in the Half Moon Bay City brand and the Mavericks brand. This year was a miss…but the organizers and the city have a year to make the plans to get it right.


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