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Some of the world’s best big wave surfers are descending the coastal town of Half Moon Bay to ride the huge waves at Mavericks. 

The athletes took advantage of the massive swells that slammed the California coastline during the last week of December, drawing even more international attention to the sport of big wave surfing. It has gained more momentum over the years, as videos and photos of elite athletes putting their lives on the line to ride giant waves go viral on social media. The emotional and physical challenges surfers endure to train year-round for competitions, like The Mavericks Awards, have also gained more notoriety.

Elite athletes traveled to California’s Half Moon Bay from places all over the world, including Portugal, France, Brazil and Hawaii, to take on Mother Nature by riding waves as tall as 70 feet. 

Half Moon Bay is located between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and it is one of a handful of big breaks worldwide. The two other most popular in the world for big breaks are located in Jaws in Hawaii and Nazare in Portugal, where much of the HBO docuseries “100 Foot Wave” was filmed.

Professional surfer JoJo Roper, who was towed by talented waterman Jamie Mitchell, rode one of the giant waves during Mavericks on Dec. 28. Tens of thousands of fans have viewed video of Roper riding the massive swells on social media. A number of videographers got footage of all the action, including Big-Wave documentarian Tim Bonython and Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark.


The Mavericks Awards used to be a one-day contest 25 years ago. Organizers say it has since evolved into a digital performance competition with an esteemed panel of judges and a world-class safety crew is also in place to ensure athletes’ safety at the competition. The Mavericks Awards also partners with local businesses to host livestream watch parties.

Surfer Alo Slebir tries it out

Big waver surfer fans, their friends and family members gather along the cliffs in Half Moon Bay to watch the athletes compete. Organizers continue to share video of surfers and their incredible rides as the competition continues. 

“This year’s contest is going to be a banger,” Mavericks Awards co-founder Chris Culvier said. “With the huge swells and the huge waves ridden this year, the highlights from this season are going to be phenomenal. This year’s swells have produced some of the biggest waves and most exciting rides at Mavericks in recent history.” 

The contest has both male and female competitors. There are three categories for men and three categories for women and equal prize money for all. The categories include Biggest Wave, Ride of the Year and Performer of the Year.

Organizers said last year the Mavericks Awards “hosted over 400 attendees in Half Moon Bay to celebrate the athletes and watch video highlighting stories from the season, the best rides, worst wipeouts, and rivalries amongst the local crew.”


The current Mavericks Awards season wraps up on April 15 and the award party is scheduled for May 4 in Half Moon Bay.

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