Twenty years after the first competition was held off the coast of Half Moon Bay, Northern California's annual Mavericks surf contest has been canceled indefinitely.
The World Surf League delivered the news on Aug. 30, along with the announcement that it would be revamping its circuit of big-wave surf competitions overall. In its press release, WSL cited "various logistical challenges, as well as the inability to run the event the last two seasons" as reasons for the cancellation. WSL took over as sponsor of the Mavericks contest in 2017 when the previous organizer filed for bankruptcy. Bad weather conditions prevented the contest from happening in 2018.
Mavericks is infamous for its massive swell and unforgiving — sometimes fatal — conditions, from frigid water temperature to rocky ocean floor. Still, since the 1970s, experienced surfers have risked their lives to paddle out from the coast to surf the waves, which tower as high as 60 feet during winter.
The window of time for the contest to happen is from Nov. 1 to March 31, and because a perfect storm of weather conditions is needed for the contest (big enough waves, no fog and not windy), surfers are typically given only a day or two of advance notice before the competition's start. Coupled with the complex process of obtaining a slew of permits from the California Coastal Commission, the San Mateo County Harbor District, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, a business license from San Mateo County, a lease from the State Lands Commission and coordinating road closures with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, the Mavericks contest has never been an easy competition to host.
Steve Hawk, former editor of Surfer Magazine, says he wasn't surprised the contest was canceled.