An earlier start for Mavericks

South African Chris Bertish during the final heat of the Mavericks Invitational in 2010. AP Images

The official waiting period for the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest in California will open on Nov. 1, 2012 and run through March 31, 2013, an earlier start date than normal due to a predicted El Niño winter.

"It looks like we are headed for an early winter, and we want to take advantage of the big swells in November," said Mavericks pioneer Jeff Clark, who sits on the contest's board of directors. "The surfers are ready, the community is ready, and we are stoked to make this amazing event happen this year."

Last week, the San Mateo County Harbor District granted organizers a permit to run the one-day contest, where 24 invite-only surfers are notified during the waiting period when forecasters expect waves to consistently reach 40-feet high.

The contest has taken place at Mavericks, a historically legendary break at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, Calif., since 1999.

Last year's Mavericks contest never took place, for the sixth time in the event's 13-year history, due to a lack of big enough waves. Last year's contest also brought about a controversy between two opposing groups each seeking permits to run the contest; the groups eventually settled their differences and received a joint permit.

The Mavericks contest will be part of the 2012 Big Wave World Tour, a four-stop tour that will also make visits to Chile, Peru, and Mexico. In 2010, Maverick's was first added to the Big Wave World Tour, which was founded by big wave rider and shaper Gary Linden in 2009, but the California contest was not a part of the tour in 2011.

"It's the natural progression of things to have Mavericks be a part of the Big Wave World Tour," Pierre Camoin, tour manager for the Big Wave World Tour, told ESPN.com. "Because Mavericks was an event before we created the World Tour, and it's been one of the biggest in the world, we are really stoked to keep the look and flavor of the event but also make it a part of this bigger world tour."

World tour organizers will handle water safety, judging, and other logistics at Mavericks.

The invited surfers at Mavericks will now be competing for the overall title of Big Wave World Champion, which was last claimed by Peter Mel in 2011-12. Now in its fourth season, the Big Wave World Tour hopes to continue to grow, according to Camoin. "We currently have four stops on the World Tour, but we hope to have six stops in the future, with three in the northern hemisphere and three in the southern hemisphere," Camoin said.