Organizers and Mother Nature just might be on the side of the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest this year.

Mavericks Invitational Inc. announced last week that it had attained a limited commercial activity permit from the San Mateo County Harbor District. The permit is a crucial step before the big-wave contest can take place this winter.

The list of competitors has also been announced. Twenty-four invitees from last year’s canceled competition will return for another shot at riding the big wave off Pillar Point.

Pacifica’s Matt Ambrose and Santa Cruz residents Ryan Augenstein, Ken “Skindog” Collins, Shane Desmond, Shawn Dollar, Peter Mel, Tyler Smith, Anthony Tashnick and Zach Wormhoudt intend to battle the expected 20-foot-high walls of water.

Responding to the call of duty if necessary, there will be a host of California Coast alternates. Tyler Fox, Josh Loya, Nic Lamb, Mike Gerhardt and Russel Smith sail in from Santa Cruz. Pacificans Colin Dwyer, Travis Payne and Shawn Rhodes, and Ion Banner of Half Moon Bay, are also among the alternates.

“The competitors will still earn their way through dedication to surfing Mavericks, proving their mettle at Mavericks and being voted into the event by their peers,” said Jeff Clark, surfing legend and one of the organizers of the event, in a prepared statement.

None of the participants had the opportunity to compete last year because of a series of complications, uncooperative weather being one of them. The filming of the feature “Chasing Mavericks” also complicated surfing at Mavericks last year.

This year, Mavericks Invitational organizers will also be partnering with the Big Wave World Tour. Big-wave-riding fanatics will have a chance to compete and attend events not only at Mavericks but also in Chile, Peru and Mexico.

While humans handle logistics, the fickle nature of big waves is uncontrollable. This year, organizers are anticipating some El Niño swells. The waiting period for the competition opens Nov. 1 and will close March 31.

Mavericks is well-known among big-wave surfers who come from around the world for a unique blend of weather, water and distinct sea floor.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration explains that, as waves move through shallow water, their crests slow down and bend to stay parallel to seafloor’s contours. But as they slow, the direction of wave energy moves perpendicular to the crests. At these points on the steep slopes of Mavericks’ bedrock reef, the energy rapidly converges and waves reach monumental heights.

Mavericks has been a hub of big wave-surfers since the 1990s when competitions first began. Clark started to surf the legendary area at the age of 17 in 1975, and is considered to be one of the pioneers of the previously untamable waves.

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