Walls of water overwhelm N. Calif. surfing contest - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Walls of water overwhelm N. Calif. surfing contest

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — Despite big wave warnings, two walls of water caught dozens of spectators off-guard and knocked them to a rocky beach as they watched a Northern California surfing contest, leaving some with broken bones.

Battalion Chief Scott Jalbert of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said 13 people swept from a seawall Saturday had significant injuries, including broken legs and hands. At least three of the injured were taken to hospitals.

The waves were estimated to be 5 feet to 6 feet high.

Jalbert estimated "a couple hundred" people were on the seawall at the southern tip of Mavericks Beach when the waves struck, upstaging the surfing competition that draws some of the world's top surfers.

Chris Bertish of South Africa won the contest, which offers a $150,000 purse and is the most lucrative big-wave contest in the world.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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