A clean, 2.5 metre swell rolled into Surfers Point this morning for the start of the Margaret River Pro.
The best surfers in the world, including current world champions Stephanie Gilmore and Joel Parkinson, fronted the media today as spectators lined the beach to watch the first heats.
The line-up for the competition reads like a who's who of the Australian surfing world , with Josh Kerr, Julian Wilson and Owen Wright all participating.
Parkinson, who arrived in Margaret River last night, said heis happy to be back on South West soil.
"The whole area is amazing…it's one of the best places on the planet for surfing. I'm just glad to be back here."
He said he was hoping for a win after being beaten by Kelly Slater in the Quiksilver Pro this week.
"It really would have been nice to get Kelly in the final but I think now that I'm over the loss of it, it's all good."
Slater is not competing due partly to a sore back and world number three Mick Fanning has pulled out for personal reasons.
Australian Julian Wilson won his heat this morning, as well as high-profile surfers CJ Hobgood and Jordy Smith.
Gilmore, who lost her first heat this morning to up-and-coming surfer Felicity Palmateer, said she was looking forward to riding the waves at Surfers Point, which had the reputation of being among the most challenging in the world.
"I always enjoy coming to Margaret river, it's a beautiful place and this wave-all the girls would agree…is probably the most difficult wave in the sense of conditions,' she said.
"It's just challenging and it's good. The girls need that and the tour needs that."
The five-time world champion said she was hoping to get a good result but she did it for the love.
"I just love what I do, I love to compete and surf and come to beautiful places and it's the best job in the world so if I can just keep doing what I do and enjoy it , the world title is just a bonus on top."
American Courtney Conologue, who is shooting for three Margaret River Pro victories in a row this year, said she felt confident heading into the event and was looking forward to bringing out her longer boards to tackle the conditions.
"I'm feeling pretty good," she said.
"I definitely love the conditions here. It's nice to have a little variety on the tour.
Tyler Wright, who is currently ranked number one in the world, won her heat this morning as did world number two Sally Fitzgibbons.
The reinstatement of the event onto the World Championship Tour has guaranteed the participation of the world's top 18 female surfers this year.It is expected 25,000 to 30,000 spectators will watch the event due largely to the WCT status, up from about 20,000 last year.
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