01/18/2013 04:53 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2013

When Is Mavericks?: Everything You Need To Know About Watching The Legendary Surf Compeition

Starting at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday January 20, Mavericks Surf Contest, an event that's been dubbed the "Super Bowl of Surfing," comes to the rocky shores of Half Moon Bay, California.

"The waves are going to be insane, the weather is going to be beautiful, and the level of surfing will break new ground," said Mavericks Invitational Contest Director Jeff Clark in a statement.


Intermittently since 1999, two dozen of the world's best surfers head to the bucolic Northern California city of Half Moon Bay to ride up to 50 foot tall waves breaking on a reef about a half mile off the coast. The event is only held when conditions are just right--it hasn't happened since 2010--and the invited surfers are typically only given 24 hours of warning to drop whatever they're doing, wherever they are in the world, and come to California. However, this year, everyone got the head's up a full four days early.

The biggest draw among the expected competitors is #1 Greatest Surfer of All TimeKelly Slater, but previous Mavericks champs Grant Baker, Chris Bertish, Greg Long and Anthony Tashnick have also all been invited. This year's winner will bring home $25,000 in prize money.

The full list of invited surfers can be found here.

The same conditions that bring the competition's waves also make it dangerous to watch what's happening from the water, so Mavericks officials are urging spectators to stay on land if they want to check out the action in person.

"Those attempting to watch the event from the water do so at significant risk to themselves and rescue personnel,” Capt. Cynthia Stowe of the U.S. Coast Guard told CBS San Francisco in a statement.

Even so, that doesn't mean surfing enthusiasts watching from the hillside will be entirely safe either. When the competition was held three years ago, a massive rogue wave washed onshore injuring 14 people and sending dozens more running for higher ground.

That's why local authorities have shut down all access roads to Pillar Point. If spectators want to get close to the action, they're being advised to head over to the Mavericks Invitational Festival, which is being held at the nearby Oceano Hotel and Spa at Princeton Harbor. Tickets for the festival start at $10.

Half Moon Bay Patch breaks it down:

Parking is available at the Half Moon Bay Airport for $15, with proceeds benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastside. The entrance to the lot is off of Capistrano Road. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office will not permit parking on Highway 1 in the vicinity of the harbor and spectators will not be able to park in Princeton. The best option is to bike along Highway 1 or the Coastal Trail to Pillar Point Harbor. SamTrans also offers public transportation to the area.

There will also a webcast of the whole event streaming live if you want to watch the action from the comfort of your own home (or don't want to miss the 49ers game also happening that day).

Check out this slideshow of pics from previous Mavericks events: