The Mavericks Invitational 2012 is the latest installment in the iconic big wave competition that features either the most courageous or the craziest surfers on the planet.
The contest invites 24 big wave surfers who showcase their death-defying talent on waves that can exceed 60 feet. The event spans across the entire winter from November 9–March 31.
The opening ceremony on Friday in northern California marked the official start of the event. The festivities kicked off with the competitors being joined by admiring surfers and fans for a paddle out in what truly was the calm before the storm.
The famed Mavericks break can be found two miles off shore of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, CA.
A strong winter storm in the northern Pacific Ocean is the crucial piece to the equation. The subsequent swell produces waves that top out as high as 80 feet and routinely reach 25 feet.
However, despite a long contest window, the event only lasts 24 hours. All winter long the event is on hold until contest director Jeff Clark and his team spot the perfect swell coming in and make the call.
Entrants get just a days notice to converge from across the world at Pillar Point.
One of the noted surfers to accept an invitation is not a revered big wave surfer—rather 11 time World Champion, Kelly Slater. Even with the demands of the WCT, Slater could not turn down the thrill of another challenge in the water.
Mavericks is defined by the respect and reputation that goes with conquering the towering wave. Its power is like no other, which unfortunately has resulted in the deaths of surfers Mark Foo, 1994, and Sian Milosky, 2011.
The 2011 contest suffered from poor swell and did not go ahead as contest worthy conditions never arose.
For a taste of the action to come, check out recently released Chasing Mavericks – a biopic about the life of Mavericks surfer Jay Moriarty starring Gerard Butler.