Weekend Wave Forecast Looking Good

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Big wave surfers may not have to wait long for the 2009 Mavericks Surf Contest.

    Mavericks Surf Contest director Jeff Clark said today contestants  will know by 9 a.m. Thursday whether the annual surf competition will take  place on Saturday, when a large swell is expected to hit the contest site  near Half Moon Bay.

    The swell has been monitored for the past six days and reached  Hawaii this morning, Clark said.

    If the waves arrive that "are big enough, we're going to have a  contest," he said.

    Ideal conditions would be waves around 30 to 40 feet, Clark said.  The window for the contest began Jan. 1 and ends March 31.

    Contest officials were initially looking at Friday as a  possibility, but Clark said the swell likely won't make it to Mavericks by  then. 

    The 24 contestants chosen to compete this year are planning to  arrive Thursday in case the contest happens, and will "absolutely" surf this  weekend regardless of whether they are competing, according to Clark.

    The contest takes place a half-mile off the coast of Pillar Point  near Half Moon Bay. In an effort to limit the crowd impact on the  environment, fans are provided with several other options.

    Those who want to watch the contest are encouraged to attend a  viewing event at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The contest will be broadcast  live on flat-panel screens throughout the Club Level. Tickets can be  purchased in advance for $20, or for $25 at the door.

    Fans may also watch the contest on a free online webcast.

    Contest officials also announced this week that the prize money  that will go to the winner of the contest has doubled, becoming the largest  prize in big-wave surfing competition history.

    The winner will receive $150,000, a total reached after a $75,000  contribution was made by Barracuda Networks Inc. The first $75,000 was  donated by Moose Guen and Jane Sutherland of MVision, contest officials said.