Twenty-four surfers participated in this year's contest, including Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle, was reported to have possibly surfed the world's biggest wave off the coast of Portugal last year. The roster also included Peter Mel, of Santa Cruz, and 2009-10 winner Chris Bertish, of South Africa, along with a handful of local surfers from Pacifica, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
"It's a moving wall of water so you're so hyper-focused that you're really not even thinking, you're just reacting," said Mel.
The harbor patrol estimates about 200 vessels will surround the competition, but that may not necessarily be the best seats in the house. A viewing area has been set up at the Oceano Hotel and Spa at 280 Capistrano Road near Pillar Point Harbor, just across from the Mavericks break. The surfers are taking to the water about a half-mile offshore. The festival at the Oceano grounds is providing a live viewing party on a big screen with live music, food and drink concessions and other vendors on hand.
The bluffs above the break and entrance to the beach are closed to the public for safety reasons. Viewers cannot go to the Mavericks beach because of high tide and surges. The cliffs above the beach are also considered unsafe for large crowds. The roads to Pillar Point are closed during the competition.