If the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest lacked big waves Sunday morning, it can brag of attracting big waves of surfing fans. Traffic was backed up for miles around and the attendant festival was sold out before noon.
Organizers were still letting surf fans pay $15 to park at Half Moon Bay Airport, but they had stopped letting them into the festival at the Oceano Hotel and Spa. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office sent a text noting the festival was sold out. Coastisde fire officials reported organizers had sold 11,000 tickets before the event, at $10 a piece, as well as 4,000 more $20 tickets on Sunday. The festival offered big-screen coverage of the event a half-mile out to sea as well as food and drink vendors.
The hour-plus wait for parking and lack of space in the festival left some fans grumbling.
“I’m really stoked for the contest,” said Luis Rodriguez of San Francisco, “but I have friends who have been waiting for an hour to get in and I don’t think they know they will be watching it on TV.”
There were also glitches in planned streaming coverage. The Mavericks Invitational website was down throughout the morning, but coverage was available intermittently at surfline.com and on redbulltv.com.
Generally, though, the mood was upbeat in and around Pillar Point Harbor. Fans seemed to be enjoying the proximity to the famed surf venue and lovely unseasonable weather.
Waves were picking up on the third heat of the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest on Sunday. Surfers Greg Long and Zach Wormhoudt both rode good waves after a puny second heat.
Contest organizers and safety officials were committed to keeping fans off the nearby bluffs after a series of spectator accidents over the years.
The first heat got began beneath bright sunshine shortly after 8 a.m. The tide was relatively high and that was holding waves below the expected 30 feet. Waves were expected to build toward the noon hour, when lower tides will push the waves higher.
“This is probably the nicest day I’ve seen out here in all my days of coming,” Mark Healey told an interviewer on the live streaming broadcast.