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San Clemente's Greg Long competes during the third heat of the Mavericks surf competition in Half Moon Bay on Sunday.
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O.C. resident wins Mavericks surf contest


Peter Mel, a Santa Cruz surfer who lives in Newport Beach, has claimed this year's Mavericks Invitational, a contest that brought together the best 24 big-wave surfers from around the world to compete in Northern California on Sunday.

Mel, 42, split his $50,000 winnings with fellow finalists, who included San Clemente's Greg Long, the event's winner in 2008. The event was held on a day that saw long lulls, but when the occasional sets showed, waves beefed up to the 20-foot-and-larger range.

Because surf conditions have not been right on recent target dates, this year's renewal of the one-day, invite-only contest was the first in three years. The famed surf spot is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco.

The surf break at Half Moon Bay was made famous recently in the Hollywood film "Chasing Mavericks." Long and Mel were stunt doubles and actors in the film, picked for their expertise at this intense surf spot.

The victory follows a year of great accomplishment for Mel, who was named the Big Wave World Champion for the 2011-12 season. Mel works for Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver.

Mavericks is one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world, taking lives of well-known, experienced surfers over the years. Spectators were not allowed on the bluff this year after walls of water came crashing onto the beach in 2010 and injured spectators.

Contact the writer: lconnelly@ocregister.com

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