After a lack of swell held competition off for Day 1 of the Gotcha Ichinomiya Chiba Open - Men's powered by GoPro, a slight kick in wave size overnight has seen the oening rounds of both men's and women's hit the water at Shida Point.
Shun Murakami was an early round standout easily accounting for Tom Cloarec and posting an impressive two wave heat total of 15.46. This included a near excellent 7.93 for a series of fast, fluid and powerful backhand top-to bottom turns. The 20 year-old who hails from Yoshihama Beach just south of Tokyo is following the QS full time and is excited to be competing in Japan.
"This event is a great opportunity for me becuase I am very familiar with the waves here," Murakami said. "There's a long way to go here, but I am hopeful of a great result at this event which will help my Qualifying Series campaign."
Mason Ho attracted a lot of interest late in the day and he didn't disappoint with a creative display of surfing that saw him come from behind to take out Heat of Round .
"I love coming to Japan, the food, the people , watching Sumo on Tv - it's great," Ho said. "I prepare for this event leading in by surfing with my dad (Michael) and my uncle Derek - Those two surf fun small waves all the time and I surf hard with them in the month leading in so it's great"
Former CT competitor Yadin Nicol is best known for his big wave prowess but in the small waves on offer at Shida in Round 1, he displayed a very competent small wave act. Nicol posted a solid 7.90 on his way to a heat win.
" Wave choice is important today and I found that good wave early which set up the heat win," Nicol said. "We come here expecting to surf good small waves and with a promising forecast I'm looking forward to the next rounds, my boards are good and I feel confident"
All eyes are sure to be on Number 1 seed Adriano de Souza. The 2015 WSL World Champion and current world number 2 ranked surfer is in great form coming off a big win in Brazil last week and will be looking for a big result at Chiba.
Kanoa Igarashi is the number 2 seed and will also attract enormous attention from the strong crowds building at this event.