Mavericks Invitational is ON for Sun, Jan 20th

CONTEST organizers for the Mavericks Invitational 2012-2013 presented by GoPro, have confirmed that the world's premier big wave surf contest will take place on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay, CA. It will be live HERE at 7.30am PST.

"The waves are going to be insane, the weather is going to be beautiful, and the level of surfing will break new ground," said Mavericks Invitational Contest Director Jeff Clark.

This is the first time in three years that contest-worthy waves are headed to the legendary surf break. Forecaster Mark Sponsler stated, "This is looking like the best opportunity we've had in quite a few years with great conditions for running the contest."

"This swell is going to offer huge waves and possibly perfect conditions. This is a very powerful swell, and we will have dramatic conditions that will push the competitors to their limits. Sunday is going to beautiful and very scary at times. I look forward to seeing plenty of glory rides," said competitor and surfers' representative Shawn Dollar.

But what will the surf look like? And how does it compare to the last time Mavs ran in Feb, 2010?

"This NPAC storm is interesting for two reasons: it's intensity and it's relatively short lifespan before spiralling north into the Aleutians." Said Head Forecaster, Ben Freeston

"What we're left with is an incredibly powerful swell dropping in size as it fans out across the basin, with the real bulk of the 'black hole' of this swell heading north away from known big wave locations."

"Most surfers are well aware the benefits of long period in enhancing wave size as swell shoals onto a shallow reef shelf and Mavericks is a really good example of how this transition from deep to shallow water generates exceptionally large waves from this sort of swell - but there's an almost global truth in big wave forecasting that nothing quite replaces raw swell size. For this reason, for most big wave locations the proximity of the storm is as important as its power.

"There's no doubt that this swell will create large surf - but compared to the 2010 competition, for example, where a forecast 18ft@16 seconds arrived on the Half Moon Bay buoy at a peak of just over 20ft@17 seconds - we're forecasting a different kind of beast this time round, with peak heights around half these numbers. It'll be really interesting to see how it differs as it hits the reef.

"Initially with this storm we had some nervousness in the model's ability to resolve the centre of this storm correctly, the latest numbers as we write this confirm a very tight correlation as the swell arrives in Hawaii (9.8ft@20secs buoy vs. 10ft@20secs forecast) for this reason, at this stage of the storm, we've higher confidence in the numbers forecast for Mavericks.

"As we've written before: issues with the model are almost always around uncertainty or error in the wind forcing. Once the swell has been generated we remove the uncertainty and in this instance we have initial confirmation of minimal error in the winds."

You can check the forecast HERE

For public safety, local authorities from San Mateo County Sheriff, California Parks, CHP, San Mateo County Harbor District and other participating agencies will close off all roads to Pillar Point, including access to the beach and bluffs.

In order to get the full experience of the contest, officials have organized the Mavericks Invitational Festival, an outdoor event to will be held on the grounds of the Oceano Hotel & Spa at Princeton Harbor, located on the road to Mavericks and across from Jeff Clark's legendary Mavericks Surf Shop.

The Mavericks Invitational Festival starts at 8 a.m. just as the first heat of the contest starts. The festival will run all day with a live steam of all the contest action. Festival goers will enjoy a day of music, live commentary, food, the Sierra Nevada Beer Garden, Grind Out Hunger Skate Park, Mavericks Gallery of Photography, and an opportunity to mingle with competitors. As soon as the final heat is complete, all the action on the water will move to the Festival, where the surfers will gather for the Awards Ceremony. The event wraps up at sunset.

Tickets to the festival range from $10 for general admission, and go up to $1,000 for VIP passes. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on Sunday for $20, until the event is sold out. Fans can also watch the live webcast of the contest at

Event parking is located at the Half Moon Bay Airport, within walking distance of the Festival. Proceeds from the parking benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastside. Additionally, Bike Works Half Moon Bay is providing free bike valet. If you come to town for the day, parking along Highway 1 and in nearby neighborhoods will be closed. You can pay to park at the airport that day or buy your parking pass online.

Ed Temperley

MSW editor. Instagram @edtemperley