Wet and windy conditions have greeted some of the world's best longboard competitors, as the Whalebone Classic roared to life for the 19th time at Isolators Reef south of Cottesloe, Western Australia.
The Whalebone Classic is the final World Surf League (WSL) longboard qualifying series (LQS) in Australasia for 2016, and surfers battled the elements as they chase a spot into the World Longboard Championships (WLC) to be held in December in Hainan, China.
Despite strong onshore winds and an unruly swell, the standard of competition was through the roof as surfers cut through the lump and bump with a mix of traditional longboard manoeuvres and high performance turns.
2014 World Longboard Champion Chelsea Williams (QLD) kicked off this morning's action by disposing of WA's Open Women's State Champion Michalea Ross in her maiden appearance in the iconic event.
Williams scored a heat high 7.50 (from a possible 10) and backed it up with a 4.45 to finish on a combined two-wave total of 11.95 (from a possible 20).
"I definitely didn't surf my best out there," said Williams. "It's really challenging and I wasn't sure what to catch or where to sit. I didn't get a chance to freesurf yesterday, but I'm really happy to get the win and move through."
Local hope and defending event champion Georgia Young (WA) used her home ground advantage to perfection, posting a strong round one win at her homebreak.
"You had to search for the best ones out there," said Young. "It's good to get the first surf out of the way and I've got some great support here so I couldn't be happier."
Kathryn Hughes (QLD) and Nava Young (NSW) also impressed this morning with dominant round one wins.
In the men's division, 2x World Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) dropped a blistering round one performance.
The defending Whalebone Classic champion posted the highest combined total of the day with an imposing 17.85 (from a combined 20).
Jensen looked in devastating form as he scored a near perfect 9.50 and excellent 8.35 to send an ominous sign to his fellow competitors.
"The conditions are exactly the same as the first year I surfed here at the Whalebone," said Jensen. "My freesurf this morning was horrible it was freezing cold and raining, but the waves during that heat were really quite fun."
Nic Jones (QLD) also found the conditions to his liking taking out his first round heat win thanks to some progressive and committed rail surfing.
Jones opened with an 8.00 (from a possible 10) and never looked back from his great start to finish on a two-wave combined total of 14.40 (from a possible 20).
"Every heat was pretty loaded with quality surfers," said Jones. "I just tried to stay busy and find some rhythm, it's cold so just wanted to keep the blood pumping."
Jack Entwistle (NSW) used his smooth approach and razor sharp backhand attack to lethal effect, winning his opening heat with a two-wave total of 13.25 (from a possible 20).
"It's great to back in Western Australia," said Entwistle. "I'm travelling with Nic Jones and we're going to head south after the event which is really exciting. I had a tough heat and it's always good to get the first one out of the way."
Harley Ingleby (NSW) is another multiple World Longboard Champion, who made the most of the conditions on offer at Cottesloe this morning.
Ingleby strung together some massive forehand turns with precise footwork to post two excellent scores totalling 16.35 (from a possible 20).
"It was pretty wind, but plenty contestable," said Ingleby. "I'd always prefer it to be head high and onshore than be flat and offshore, but just stoked to have waves on offer."
Wintery conditions are forecast to continue tomorrow, with strong southerly winds and a kick in the swell expected.