Johannesburg - Freezing conditions and small surf greeted competitors on the opening day of the South African surfing championships at Long Beach, Cape Town, on Thursday.
A prevailing north-west wind made the waves ruffled and onshore, but it did nothing to dampen the surfing performances throughout the morning.
The event started with the Open Men's Division. Klee Strachan (SKZN) was the first surfer to win his heat, soon followed by Shane Thorne (WP), Ryan Payne (WP), Matt Bromley (WP) and Andrew Lange (SKZN) to name a few.
"We saw a small-wave start to the day, but the swell picked up substantially throughout the day," said Chad D'Arcy, from Long Beach.
"We also saw the wind swing into the west, which made the conditions contestable and fun. It was a great start to the event."
Then it was straight into the U20 Boys' division, with Mikey February (WP), Dylan Lightfoot (EP), Davey van Zyl (KZNC) and Steven Sawyer (EP) winning their first round heats in the improving conditions.
With even better conditions forecast for Friday, expectations are high for another action-packed day of surfing.
The winner-takes-all prize money for the event has been increased by Surfing SA and Billabong.
The winners of the Men's and Women's titles will earn R10 000 each, while the U20 Boys' and Girls' champions will each take home R5000.
The winner of the Men's final will also be awarded his national colours and will automatically be included in the South African team that attends the next International Surfing Association World Surfing Games.
The event finishes on May 27.