There is a legendary surfing spot that hosts a world famous big wave surfing contest every winter. The Maverick’s Surf Contest brings world champions to the small town of Half Moon Bay just a short distance down the coast from San Francisco. The surfing circuit eagerly awaits the announcement that conditions are right for the arrival of the spectacular waves that make Maverick’s so attractive for the best of the best surfers.
The big waves at Maverick’s are not easily visible from the shoreline since they break on a reef about a quarter mile outside Pillar Point Harbor. The surfing spot is a fairly recent discovery and started getting popular in the early nineties. As more and more surfers tested the swells, they discovered that Maverick’s offered world class surfing. It is also extremely dangerous because of nearby rock outcrops. Several experts surfers have lost their lives while pursuing the dream of earning the title of winner at Maverick’s.
As the word spread about Maverick’s the location’s fame led to coverage by the press and gorgeous photo spreads in surfing magazines. Movies and documentaries followed that captured the drama of Maverick’s.
As Maverick’s got more famous there were more and more questions and theories about why the waves were so big at this particular spot along an otherwise fairly placid coast. The science of predicting ocean conditions has grown more precise as monitoring technology improved. Tracking weather conditions and the rise of swells and the waves they produced helped predict when the big waves would arrive at Maverick’s. The big breakthrough in understanding the breaks at Maverick’s came from the results of mapping the sea floor off the coast of California by the US National Oceanic and Space Administration in 2007. Having an accurate map of the seafloor made it possible to model wave formation to understand the wavefronts and wavebreaks Maverick’s.
You can learn more about Mavericks and wave formation.
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