Hold onto your hats, the Hawaiians are coming and they're targeting Australia's reigning world surfing champion, Stephanie Gilmore.
Yesterday's opening day of the ASP women's world tour on the Gold Coast allowed Hawaiian pair Coco Ho and Carissa Moore to show they won't be letting this year's championship descend into a two-horse race between Gilmore and NSW starlet Sally Fitzgibbons.
While five-time world champion Gilmore easily won her opening heat of the Roxy Pro against wildcard Dimity Stoyle and American Sage Erickson, the 25-year-old was quick to point out the threat poised by Hawaiian rivals Ho and Moore, as well as their compatriot Malia Manuel.
Ho nabbed a dramatic heat win over Australia's Tyler Wright when she nailed an 8.10 wave in the dying seconds to finish with a two-wave score of 16.87 out of 20, pipping Wright's 15.34.
Former world champion Moore also looked impressive on opening day, easily defeating New Zealand's Paige Hareb and compatriot Alana Blanchard to book her spot in the third round.
Manuel couldn't make it a hat-trick for Hawaii on the day, but only after American Lakey Peterson stole the show in her heat with the day's highest total of 19.13, which included a near-perfect 9.80 wave.
"I feel like they're [Hawaiians] the strongest and there's been a little bit of media just recently of those girls, footage of them surfing in the off-season and surfing extremely well," said Gilmore, who eased through her heat, posting 16.84 out of 20.
"It's great. We're all going to push each other in this event to go even better."
Fitzgibbons, three times a world championship runner-up, started particularly strongly with a 9.0 and 8.77 for a two-wave score of 17.77 in her heat.
That was enough for the 22-year-old to pip Peru's Sofia Mulanovich (17.43) in the tightest margin of the day.
She said Gilmore remained the one surfer everyone needed to beat, but agreed with her rival that the Hawaiians look strong.
"They're experienced now, they're looking really frisky out there," Fitzgibbons said.
"Their first heats, it looked like they were surfing really well.
"I think there's going to be some great match-ups later on in the draw ... "
Organisers will decide this morning whether to continue the Roxy Pro or begin the men's event, which is yet to start after two lay days in a row. AAP