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South African wins Maverick’s surfing competition

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Ryan Seelbach rides a wave during the second heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Tyler Fox flies out of a wave during the second heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Shane Dorian, left, and Ben Wilkinson, right, catch a wave during the third heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Ben Wilkinson goes tumbling into a wave during the third heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today in Half Moon Bay, Calif.
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Peter Mel catches a wave as Colin Dwyer, left, watches during the second heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Mel is the defending champion of the event. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Nic Lamb goes tumbling into a wave during the third heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Nic Lamb rides a wave during the third heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today, in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Nic Lamb fell off his board during the third heat of the first round of the Mavericks Invitational big wave surf contest today in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. >> The Mavericks surf competition off the Northern California coast delivered massive waves, and in the end South Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker took home the crown.

Forecasters had predicted that the mix of swell size and weather would make for faces exceeding 40 feet, and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint with some appearing to exceed 50 feet.

Baker, 40, also won the competition in 2006 and is considered one of the world’s foremost big wave riders.

Each year if conditions are right the contest is held at the perilous surf spot, which is near the San Francisco Bay Area city of Half Moon Bay.

Two seasoned watermen have died there, including legendary big-wave rider Mark Foo from Hawaii in 1994.

Only surfers invited to the event can participate, and the event is only held when conditions are prime. This year, invitations went out to 24 of the world’s best big wave surfers.

The participants compete in groups throughout the day, with judging based on the quality of the wave, difficulty of the drop and the surfer’s performance.

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