Coast Guard warns of hazards to boaters during surf contest near Pillar Point, Calif.

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard News
SAN FRANCISCO ­­— The Coast Guard will be conducting safety patrols during the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest off the coast of Pillar Point, Calif., Jan. 20, 2013.

The Coast Guard discourages spectators from observing the event on the water due to the nature of the breaking surf and the hazardous waters surrounding Pillar Point during the surfing competition.  The Coast Guard will not be establishing a safety zone for the event as it is impossible to reliably predetermine safe water in the immediate vicinity of the contest.   Coast Guard and San Mateo County Harbor District assets will be in the event area and ready to respond in case of an emergency.

Spectators choosing to view the event from the water do so at their own risk, and should exercise extreme caution, remain aware of changing surf conditions, and ensure their vessel is of appropriate design and construction and outfitted with the proper safety equipment for operation in an offshore environment.

The Mavericks Surf Contest is only held when 15-20 foot waves are sustained for over 24 hours and are combined with mild easterly winds.  These surf conditions coupled with strong currents and shallow reefs in the area create a dangerous situation for both spectators and rescuers.

“The surf conditions during this competition can be extremely dangerous for boaters,” said Capt. Cynthia Stowe, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.  “Those attempting to watch the event from the water do so at significant risk to themselves and rescue personnel. I strongly encourage spectators to remain ashore and enjoy the competition from an appropriate venue on land.”

For more information on boating safety and required and recommended safety equipment, please visit www.uscgboating.org.

A surfer takes on a massive wave in Halfmoon Bay during the 20110 Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest.

A surfer takes on a massive wave during the 20110 Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest.

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