Mavericks, an invitation-only event that's the greatest surfing competition in the world, will be held this Sunday beginning at 8am PT near Half Moon Bay.
A live webcast will be available on the official website. Lots of folks jam the shoreline trying to see the event, but in 2010, one particularly large wave crashed on to shore and injured a number of spectators. For Bay Area folks wanting to experience the atmosphere in person, a viewing festival will be set up at Pillar Point Harbor.
The event is called upon short notice, during a window lasting from November to March, depending on surf forecasts. It was not held the last 2 years because weather patterns didn't allow for enough quality surf. From the San Francisco Chronicle:Maverick's or Mavericks is a surfing location in Northern California, USA. It is located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) from shore in Pillar Point Harbor just north of Half Moon Bay at the village of Princeton-By-The-Sea. After a strong winter storm in the northern Pacific Ocean, waves can routinely crest at over 25 feet (8m) and top out at over 80 feet (24.4 m). The break is caused by an unusually shaped underwater rock formation.
Mavericks is a winter destination for some of the world's best big wave surfers. Very few riders become big wave surfers; and of those, only a select few are willing to risk the hazardous conditions at Maverick's. An invitation-only contest is held there every winter, depending on wave conditions.
"This swell is coming from a very strong storm located midway between Japan and the international dateline, with hurricane-force winds," Sponsler said in an e-mail. "This is the strongest storm in the North Pacific in three years. It's looking like the best opportunity we've had in quite a while for running the contest."
Surf is only part of the equation, and the other crucial factors appear to be magnificently in place for Sunday: sunny weather, mild and favorable winds out of the east and, primarily, the low-tide conditions that are ideal for Mavericks.
"With such a beautiful day at hand, the contest could be unbelievably good," Washburn said. "The storm is still a long way from us, and that's the only thing that has people concerned: How much of that energy will dissipate before it arrives here? It's shaping up to have 17- to 20-second intervals (between waves in a set), and that always makes for powerful surf. Ideally, we'll have solid, 20-foot sets (as measured in the open ocean, translating to 40-foot faces).
Here's a cool 10-minute excerpt from a documentary about surfing at Mavericks. Here's also this year's event trailer.