- WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

Competition has kicked off at the 2023 White Buffalo Hyuga Pro, World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event with the opening rounds of men's and women's competition being run. The competition was fierce on Day 1, with surfers making the most of the small, clean surf at Okurahahama Beach.

Ketut Agus Ketut Agus was stoked to make it through his opening round heat. - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

The WSL Asia regional QS rankings are set for a massive shake-up this week as rankings leader Oney Anwar (IDN) opted to skip the event, whilst event top seed Kian Martin (SWE) was ousted in his opening heat. With Yuji Nishi (JPN), Ketut Agus (IDN) and Daiki Tanaka (JPN) all making their respective heats, the door is wide open as the race to Challenger Series Qualification heats up.

Local competitor Kohjun Hirasaka (JPN) looked in good touch at his home break, winning through to the Round of 32 with a respectable mid-range score in both the Round of 80 and the Round of 64. Hirasaka will now shift his focus to competing against the top seeds as he looks to make his mark on the competition.

"The wind was strong, but it was at least keeping it clean out there," Hirasaka said. "I'm hoping these clean conditions continue for the next few days. It was beautiful out there. It's great to compete at home against the best in Asia - the level is super high, so it's good to make some heats."

Kohjun Hirasaka Kohjun Hirasaka - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

Another local competitor who stood out in the women's opening round was Natsuki Suda (JPN), who booked herself a spot in the Women's Round of 16 with an impressive performance at Okurahahama Beach on Day 1.

"I had a bad injury last year and decided that I would retire from competing," Suda said. "I spoke a lot with my family and decided that there was an event coming here and maybe I should compete just for fun and to see how I go. I'm glad I did because I felt good and was able to get a heat win."

Natsuki Suda Natsuki Suda - WSL / Hiroshi Ichino

The competition will continue tomorrow, with the women's top seeds expected to hit the water after the completion of the following men's round.

The 2023 White Buffalo Hyuga Pro QS 3,000 will run from March 2 - 5.

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