Big surfing contest wipes out, no waves

Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:56am EST
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By Gabrielle Saveri

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An epic U.S. surfing contest that in the past featured athletes riding huge waves is washing out this year, due to a lack of big surf, organizers said.

The Jay at Maverick's Big Wave Surfing Invitational, near scenic Half Moon Bay in California, often attracts some of the surfing world's top talent. But the competition is only held if the right weather conditions produce giant swells.

Those conditions would need to happen by February 28, the final day in the window of time set by organizers of the northern California contest, and they have discounted that possibility.

"It's been a bad year for big waves," Grant Washburn, a veteran surfer who has ridden in all the past Maverick's competitions, told Reuters on Tuesday.

The window of the time for the contest to happen began back on December 1.

If a storm offshore had produced the right conditions for potentially big waves, the 24 surfers slated to compete would have held a vote on whether to gather shoreside at Maverick's.

"There's been nothing really legitimate," Washburn said. "If there had been a good swell pattern, we would have voted."

This will be the fourth year since the founding of the Maverick's surf contest in 1998 that the event has not happened, said Katherine Kelly Clark, a co-director of the competition.   Continued...