Surfing contest spectators swept from seawall by waves that ‘came out of nowhere’
this doesn’t happen again.”
The waves knocked out barricades, a spectator platform and a large scaffold holding speakers broadcasting the Mavericks Surf Contest, held in this tiny harbour town 25 miles (40 kilometres) south of San Francisco along Highway 1.
The National Weather Service posted a high surf warning until 10 p.m. Saturday — after the unexpected large waves swept in during high tide. The weather service had previously posted a less severe high surf advisory.
“It just came out of nowhere and wiped us all out,” said Pamela Massette of Corte Madera. Her left hand and left knee were scraped and bleeding and she was wet from head to toe.
Brandon Snider got his injured knee taped up by a contest volunteer. Everyone’s concentration was on the contest when a 5-foot to 6-foot (1.5-metre to 1.5-metre) wave “wiped out the entire seawall,” he said.
At least two more rogue waves came through the same area dur- ing the high tide, reaching the seawall, knocking down more spectators and sending others fleeing in panic. The subsequent waves were not as large or strong as the first two and did not cause any apparent additional injuries.
“ This is probably the tallest waves I’ve seen. They’re not the thickest, but they are the tallest,” Bart Miller of Half Moon Bay said after coming out of the surf. Miller doesn’t compete but said he has surfed on the same day as all seven Mavericks contests over the years.
Spectators lost cameras, cellphones and backpacks as the waves swept the seawall.
Authorities yelled for people to get back from the shore, but could not use the public address system because it had been swept away.
Officials were not allowing any new spectators to reach the beach, though they were allowing those already there to stay.
Authorities moved bystanders from the seawall and about 100 yards (90 metres) back from the water after Saturday’s incident.