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Mavericks surf contest set for 8 a.m. Saturday

Two dozen surfers from around the world to compete in big waves a half mile from Pillar Point Harbor

The world-renowned annual Mavericks Surf Contest near Half Moon Bay will be held Saturday, contest officials announced Thursday afternoon.

The 24 surfers from around the world selected to participate in this year's competition voted whether to hold the contest day, and the majority voted in favor, contest co-director Katherine Clark said.

"We're all very excited," said Clark, who created the competition with ex-husband Jeff Clark, the former contest director, more than a decade ago.

The contest will begin at 8 a.m. in the waters about a half-mile from Pillar Point Harbor.

Partly cloudy skies in the morning with highs in the upper 50s are expected Saturday, and waves averaging 15 to 20 feet -- with the greater waves reaching 25 feet -- are anticipated, according to National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin.

"It should be pretty nice out," Benjamin said.

Viewing space near the contest is limited, and those who want to watch the contest are urged to attend the AT&T Park viewing event where a live webcast will be shown for $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

A live-stream of the contest will also be broadcast powered by Ustream on the Internet at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-2009-2010-mavericks-surf-contest-presented-by-sony-ericsson.

For those who want to attend the event in person, officially sanctioned boat tours are available that are piloted by local captains with knowledge of the area around the Mavericks surf break.

Contest officials strongly discourage anyone from taking non-sanctioned boat tours to keep boat traffic to a minimum both for safety and environmental purposes, Clark said.

This year the scontest window opened on Nov. 1, two months earlier than it opened last year when the window ran from Jan. 1 to March 31. The contest was never held last year because the ideal conditions didn't materialize.

For more information, visit www.maverickssurf.com.

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