Mavericks big wave surf competition kicks off

Matt Keller Image
ByMatt Keller KGO logo
Friday, February 12, 2016
World's best surfers competing at Mavericks
Twenty-four of the world's best surfers are hitting the waves at the Titans of Mavericks surf competition off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- The Titans of Mavericks surfing competition kicked off this morning. It's called one of the most hazardous sporting events in the world.

Weather permitting, ABC7 News will livestream the finals of the Titans of Mavericks competition. Check back here around 1:30 p.m. to watch live.

The 24 contestants were given 48 hours to get here from all around the world. Last year the call was never made to run the contest because the waves never got big enough. This season, though, that hasn't been a problem. The surfers have been contending with waves as high as 35 to 40 feet all day.

PHOTOS: Titans of Mavericks big wave surf competition 2016

The twist is this event no longer allows spectators on the beach or the bluff after 13 people were injured in 2010's tournament by a rogue wave.

RELATED: Women hope to someday be invited to Mavericks

"We're really discouraging people [to come to the shore] because we don't want to talk to families about what happened to their loved ones," Deputy Harbormaster Cary Smith said.

Santa Cruz surfer Ken Collins, nicknamed "Skindog," talked before the event.

"You're still like tense. It's going to be gnarly out there. There's going to be some big waves. So your body knows it," said Collins.

Unfortunately Collins felt the pain early. Announcers from the Red Bull broadcast say he blew out his eardrum in a wipe out in round one and nearly drowned.

Competing in the Titans of Mavericks is worn like a badge of honor, especially since it's not a guarantee the contest happens every year.

The contest was cancelled in 2015 due to a lack of waves.

"It's great to be back, especially since it's an El Nino year. We knew it would have to happen eventually but it was just plagued by this strong south wind over the last month or so and it was good to see that finally let up and give us a chance," said Mark Healey, surfer.

The prize pool is $125,000. After the event, the surfers will meet up in Half Moon Bay for the awards ceremony.

People should expect no access to the beach or roads to the beach. If you want to watch the event, it will be streamed here.

RAW VIDEO: Sky7 HD over Titans of Mavericks 2016

Also the Harbor Bar they'll have the action up for people to watch.

Just last month, we got a preview of the real thing. Huge waves were breaking at Mavericks on Jan. 7, and world-renowned big wave surfer Garrett McNamara wiped out, breaking his arm.

Click here for details on the competition.