01/17/2013 06:29 pm ET

Mavericks Invitational Returns After Two-Year Hiatus (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Mavericks Invitational is catching a second wave.

After a two year hiatus, the legendary surf contest is scheduled to return to Half Moon Bay this Sunday, when two dozen surfers will take on colossal waves in hopes of taking home a cut of the $50,000 pot.

Though the event is usually annual, poor surfing conditions and low sponsorship caused the famous festival's long absence. And with a storm approaching and 49ers game scheduled for Sunday, organizers are taking chance on the date.

"It's just time, that's all," Mavericks-veteran Grant Washburn told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've gone two winters without an event. We can't be too picky or we'll never have the thing."

Mavericks Invitational is unveiling several new features this year. For the first time since the contest began in 1999, Pillar Point beach will be closed. The decision comes in response to the 2010 disaster in which 15 spectators were injured by strong waves.

Organizers are also hosting the Mavericks Invitational Festival at the Oceano Hotel. Fans can mingle with competitors, catch the action on big-screen televisions and, for the first time ever, watch the awards ceremony in-person immediately following the competition.

The triumphant return of the contest also comes after years of controversy. The organization has been plagued by an ongoing legal battle between local founder Jeff Clark and a corporate partner. This year's festival will mark Clark's first return to the contest since 2008.

Check out some photos from Mavericks past in the slideshow below: