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Web hits the beach for surfing contest

Feel like catching a wave? Mavericks Surf Contest to use the Net to help spectators zoom in on the action.

File this one under authentic Web surfing--the kind that features wet suits, fiberglass boards and potentially bone-crushing 30-foot waves.

Two dozen surfers are expected to compete in the Mavericks Surf Contest at Northern California's Half Moon Bay on Tuesday beginning at 8 a.m. Event organizers have tapped MediaZone.com to Webcast the event, known as one of sports' fiercest confrontations with nature.

Resa Lee, director of content for MediaZone.com, argues that surfing was practically made for Webcasts. In the case of Mavericks, viewers don't have to miss work or worry about parking or chilly weather. The view from a computer screen is also unbeatable, she says.


MediaZone.com will take advantage of numerous cameras, including a "water cam" that will put viewers smack in the middle of the action. Squinting from the beach at riders who go to work on breakers a half mile from shore isn't very fun, says Lorry Thomas, a surfing fan who attended last year's contest.

"It's just too far away to watch from there," said Thomas, a recent graduate of San Jose State University. "You need binoculars or a telephoto lens to see well."

In the past, finding a good vantage point has been all the more difficult because of the crowd--as many as 50,000 people fill the beach and the bluffs above in the past.

To watch the contest online, Mavericks organizers and MediaZone.com charge $7.99 prior to the day of the event and $9.99 beginning Tuesday morning.

"We're flipping the switch at 6 a.m. PT," Lee said.

For the money, MediaZone.com offers eight hours of competition, including behind-the-scenes footage and unlimited replay of the event for a year.