The U.S. Coast Guard is discouraging spectators at the Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest from viewing the big wave competition from the water due to hazardous and unpredictable surf expected near Pillar Point on Sunday.
With waves between 15 and 20 feet high, changing surf conditions coupled with strong currents and shallow reef in the area create a dangerous situation for both spectators aboard boats and rescue teams, according to the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard officials will not establish a safe zone due to the impossible task of reliably predetermining safe waters during the competition. Crews will be conducting safety patrols and will be prepared to respond to any emergencies that arise.
Spectators who plan to view the competition from the water are reminded to exercise caution and remain aware of changing conditions on the water.
Before arriving at the competition, boaters should ensure that their vessel is appropriately designed, constructed and outfitted with the proper safety equipment for operation in an offshore environment.
Capt. Cynthia Stowe, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, said in a statement that she hopes spectators will choose to remain onshore due to the massive waves expected at the event.
"Those attempting to watch the event from the water do so at significant risk to themselves and rescue personnel," Stowe said.
Additionally, the National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory for this weekend at beaches in the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The advisory is in effect from 10 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The National Weather Service also issued a beach hazards statement about sneaker waves at the beaches between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
Large swells in the 8- to 10-foot range will create a dangerous near-shore environment that includes possible sneaker waves and strong rip currents, Point Reyes National Seashore spokesman John Dell'Osso said.
Steeper beaches, particularly northwest-facing beaches, will see large breaking waves, Dell'Osso said.
The sneaker waves can catch beach-goers and fishermen by surprise and wash them out to sea, according to Dell'Osso.
People walking on the beach should never turn their back to the ocean and fishermen should avoid fishing from jetties and rocks, Dell'Osso said.
For more information on safe boating practices and recommended safety equipment, spectators may visit uscgboating.org.
Tickets for the surfing competition and accompanying festival -- which can be purchased online at www.mavericksfestival-eac2.eventbrite.com -- range from $10 for general admission to $1,000 for VIP access. General admission tickets will be $20 at the door on Sunday.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.