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    Big-wave surfers gather in Northern California

    Shane Desmond (left) and Ben Wilkinson competed in the Mavericks Invitational in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Sunday.
    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
    Shane Desmond (left) and Ben Wilkinson competed in the Mavericks Invitational in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Sunday.

    HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — More than two dozen top surfers gathered Sunday in Northern California for the Mavericks Invitational big-wave competition.

    The contest — which requires wave faces of at least 20 feet — is being held for the first time since 2010, when a series of waves crashed into a crowd of fans and injured dozens.

    Earlier this week forecasters saw an excellent mixture of swell, wind, tide and sunny skies, although the waves Sunday weren’t quite as big as expected.

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    The surfers waited for the big waves about a half-mile offshore at a surfing site known as Mavericks.

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    Spectators were forbidden on the beach or bluffs during the event. People congregating on the bluffs and along tide pools during previous contests caused environmental damage. But some surfing fans arrived in Half Moon Bay early Sunday, backing up traffic along a state highway.

    The Coast Guard issued a high surf advisory for the weekend and warned people throughout the region to watch for ‘‘sneaker waves’’ and other hazards.

    Organizers of the contest said that one prominent surfer, Kelly Slater, had to pull out of the event because of the rules of the Association of Surfing Professionals. Because Slater is ranked in the association’s top 34, he is not allowed to compete in events that are not sanctioned by the group. The Mavericks organizers did not apply for a waiver that would have allowed Slater to take part.

    Two other big-wave surfers, Shane Dorian and Carlos Burle, withdrew from this year’s competition because of injuries.

    Associated Press