Surfing spectators pounded by waves

Feb. 13, 2010 at 9:17 PM

PRINCETON-BY-THE-SEA, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- At least 15 spectators at a California surfing competition were injured Saturday when big waves hit the beach, authorities said.

The injured were among the 20,000 people who had come to Maverick Beach near Half Moon Bay to watch the Mavericks Surf Contest, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Coastside Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Ari Delay said one person had a broken bone and one or two others were hurt badly enough to be taken to a hospital.

Waves took apart a temporary podium constructed for the awards ceremony. The event was moved to the Oceana Hotel and Spa.

Katherine Clark, a spokeswoman for the contest, said in an effort to keep crowd numbers down newly arriving spectators were barred from the Half Moon Bay airport parking lot at 10 a.m. and anyone who left the beach area was not allowed back.

The 24 contestants rode 45- to 50-foot waves, many of them emerging bloody from injuries caused by waves or rocks after wiping out. Even Chris Bertish, the South African who took the championship, was hit on the head three times by waves, the Mercury News said.

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