Mavericks surf contest brings star surfers, big swells to Half Moon Bay [PHOTOS]

After a two-year hiatus, the Mavericks Invitational surf contest captivated Half Moon Bay residents Sunday. The contest attracts surfers from across the globe who want to ride the famed Mavericks break a half-mile off shore and compete for $50,000.

In 2010, the last time the contest took place, a series of large waves crashed into the crowds on the beach, injuring dozens. This year, officials closed public access to beaches and bluffs on the day of the contest, making spectating a challenge.

Although the San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship game took place during the Mavericks action, thousands descended on Half Moon Bay to catch a glimpse of the surfers. For the only views of the waves, spectators could attend the Mavericks Festival at the Oceano Hotel & Spa in Princeton Harbor. The festival featured a JumboTron with live commentary and video of the surfers, as well as food trucks and beer gardens.

World champion surfer Kelly Slater was scheduled to compete in the event, but pulled out the day prior. Peter Mel, 43, of Santa Cruz, won the contest and accepted the trophy but split the pot with six other competitors, as is Mavericks tradition.

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