HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Elite surfers were riding huge waves off the coast of Northern California Friday morning as the big-wave surfing competition known as the Titans of Mavericks got underway.
Waves were breaking at 15 to 18 feet Friday morning but were building into the towering surf required for the competition. The start was delayed briefly due to fog, which is lifting.
The surfing event is a one-day, invitation-only competition held at the legendary Mavericks surf break near Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.
Surfers received the call Tuesday, when many had gathered in Hawaii to participate in another renowned surfing contest. "The Eddie," as it's called, was cancelled hours before it was supposed to take place because of undersized breakers.
In California, the National Weather Service forecasts waves peaking at 12 to 14 feet Friday at Mavericks, which can produce wave faces of up to 30 feet or more.
The competition is held when the surf is just right, between Nov. 1 and March 31.
The contest was last held in January 2014.
The Mavericks surf contest has been held only nine times since its inception in 1999. A lack of large waves at the right time canceled the contest last winter.
The swells travel through deep water for days before hitting a section of shallow reef that juts into the sea. When the swell hits the reef, the wave jumps up and crashes back down violently, then washes through craggy rocks.
In 2010, the contest attracted more than 100,000 live fans while thousands more watched on big screens at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The live crowd overwhelmed the beach. About a dozen people were injured after a wave knocked spectators into the water.
Spectators now have to watch online.
This season's invitees are all male, but that could change.
The California Coastal Commission last year told organizers to have a plan to include women if they want a permit to hold the event next season.