Mavericks Surf Competition: What it is and Where to find it
As savvy readers know, I live on the Half Moon Bay Coastside (lucky me). Once of the most frequent questions asked by visitors here is, where’s Mavericks surf spot?
Sometimes they’re looking right at the world famous surf location off Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point, about a half hour drive south of San Francisco, but they don’t recognize it because the waves typically only break massive once or possibly twice a year, if that.
When Mavericks does break, it is truly impressive. And no matter how amazing the waves look on photos and video, seeing them in person takes your breath away.
After a surge knocked some spectators off their feet a few years ago during the contest, local agencies decided to close public access to the beach and to the environmentally-sensitive bluffs above on contest day.
The area is blocked off from spectators during the one-day surf contest for anyone without special access approval. But you can go to Mavericks Beach at other times and see where the big surf competition takes place.
Savvy tip: See my directions to the Mavericks surf spot and a map at the bottom of this page. (Also scroll down for where to see which local bars and restaurants show a live feed during the competition.)
What is the Mavericks Challenge?
Now part of the Big Wave Tour (BWT), the Mavericks Challenge invites two dozen big-wave surfers from around the globe to compete in the (usually) annual surf competition. The waves are massive, up to 40, 50, or even 60 feet high in previous years. These waves occur only at certain times during any given year.
In the 2018-2019 competition, for the first time, the Mavericks lineup of competitors finally includes women. This was a hard-won battle, and we are looking forward to seeing these amazing surfers compete.
The women’s lineup: Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly, Justine Dupont, Bianca Valenti, Maya Gabeira, Sarah Gerhardt, Emily Erickson, Andrea Moller, Jamilah Star, One wildcard to be selected on Green Alert
Alternates: Wrenna Delgado, Laura Enever, Felicity Palmateer, Raquel Heckert, Easkey Britton, Silvia Nabuco
The men’s lineup: Billy Kemper, Kai Lenny, Ian Walsh, Makuakai Rothman, Lucas Chianca, Jamie Mitchell, Tom Lowe, Alex Botelho, Greg Long, Natxo Gonzalez, Will Skudin, Grant Baker, Nathan Florence, Jojo Roper, Russell Bierke, Travis Payne, Patrick Shaughnessy, Matt Becker, Anthony Tashnick, Jason Stark, Hunter Murison, Peter Mel, Nic Lamb, One wildcard to be selected on Green Alert
Alternates: Ryan Hipwood, Tyler Fox, Luca Padua, Ryan Seelbach, Colin Dwyer, Ben Andrews, Kyle Thiermann
When is the Mavericks Challenge?
The 2018/2019 Big Wave Tour hosts three events: the Nazaré Challenge, the Jaws Challenge, and now the Mavericks Challenge. the Mavericks Challenge window of time when the big wave may occur to trigger the contest is early November through the end of March. Mavericks is now one of three stops on the Big Wave Tour.
World Surf League will closely monitor all swells throughout the holding period and will call the competition, giving participants up to 48 hours’ notice.
Where to See the Mavericks Challenge
While you can’t get up close and personal any more during the actual competition, several of the bars and restaurants in the area typically show the live feed on their big TV screens. You can come and celebrate or simply hang out with other surf fans around town.
Watch the event live online (check surfline.com to find out who’s broadcasting), or go out and enjoy a live stream of the event with others at the usual local spots. Here’s where we found live coverage in previous years. Call to verify before you go.
HALF MOON BAY MAVERICKS VIEWING
- Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
- Miramar Beach Restaurant
- Old Princeton Landing
- Cameron’s Restaurant
- Jeff Clark’s Mavericks Surf Shop
SANTA CRUZ MAVERICKS VIEWING
- East Side Eatery
- Pleasure Pizza
- NUBO Brewery
- Reef Pono Grill
- La Playa Taqueria
SAN FRANCISCO MAVERICKS VIEWING
- Petes Tavern
- Wipeout Bar and Grill Pier 39
Where to Find Mavericks Beach
You can go out to see the spot of the Mavericks Challenge surf competition from Mavericks Beach when it is not going on. Here’s how to get there from Half Moon Bay:
- Turn west on Capistrano Road into Pillar Point Harbor.
- Wind your way around the university-themed streets:
- Turn left on Prospect Way (across from Old Princeton Landing)
- Turn right on Broadway
- Turn right on Harvard
- Turn left on West Point Ave
- Park in the dirt Tide Pools parking lot
- Walk the dirt trail between the water and the bluffs, out to Maverick’s Beach.
- Turn right at the end of the trail. That’s Mavericks Beach. (At high tide you may not be able to walk to the end of Mavericks Beach)
Photos by Brian Overfelt, Old Princeton Landing, Half Moon Bay