Surf's up at Santa Cruz contest thanks to Hurricane Marie

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Surf's up for the Surfer Magazine's 2014 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge in Santa Cruz.

Surf's up for the Surfer Magazine's 2014 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge that is taking place at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz.

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the peak surf days in Santa Cruz, with smaller waves forecast for Labor Day weekend.

This isn't the norm for summer in Santa Cruz. Fog often covers the coast this time of year and the ocean can look like a lake. But on this day, surf's up under blue skies.

Hurricane Marie which is churning off the coast of Mexico, and a southwest swell from New Zealand are putting a little extra oomph into the end of summer surf.

Overhead sets at Steamer Lane brought 5-to-7 foot waves to the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge.

"It's the best. It's what all the surfers are waiting for. When it all comes together like this it's a lot of fun," said surfer Ryan Augenstein.

The contest pits four surfers from five different local surf shops against each other for the right to go the national championship in Nicaragua.

Organizers feel lucky that mother nature is now cooperating for this annual event that goes back to the mid-80's

"We had this event scheduled back in July about a month ago and we had to postpone it. It was dead flat. We were here at the Lane and there were no rideable lanes at all. So we postponed it," said Marty Mathiesen of Oakley Sunglasses.

People taking in the sun and surfers are enjoying the ride of big waves.

"It just lets you go faster. That's the fun part of it. I think every surfer wants to go faster. When you're on a one foot wave, you're not going very fast," said surfer Dane Anderson.

In Southern California, surfers and gawkers hit the beaches to look and ride the giant waves from Hurricane Marie.

People were hoping for 30 foot waves at the famous Wedge surf spot in Newport Beach. So far, they are the biggest they've seen since 1997.

Lifeguards are on high alert since big waves bring big dangers and swimmers can be overwhelmed by the rip current.
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