Some of the biggest names in Australian surf sports are primed for the weekend's Sydney Water Surf Series/Summer of Surf double header at Bulli Beach.
This combined round will see over 800 competitors hit the beach in a major hosting coup for the region.
Illawarra product Ben Carberry highlights the male Ironman field. Carberry recently returned from representing Australia in the US and also took victory at Summer of Surf's Wanda carnival just a few weeks ago.
"I always enjoy returning to the Illawarra to race and be part of the Sydney Water Series," Carberry said.
"The opportunity to race at Bulli and also earn Summer of Surf points is pretty special."
The early season racing is also being used by Carberry in his preparation for his assault on the upcoming Nutri-Grain Ironman series. Carberry finished second by a mere point last year and is determined to go one better this season, and add his name to the trophy alongside other Illawarra champions Ali Day and Darren Mercer.
Other leading Ironmen Jackson Borg and Corey Fletcher will challenge Carberry, as will emerging talent Connor Maggs.
Maggs won all four individual under-17 water events at the 2023 Australian Championships and is now making his presence felt in open competition. Also in the arm wrestle will be strong performers in the opening Sydney Water Surf Series rounds, Bailey Krstevski, Nathan Jay and Jay Furniss.
Warilla's Krstevski in particular will be keen to build on his solid early season form and use local conditions to his advantage.
The favourite in the women's field is Newport's Lizzie Welborn.
Welborn is set for another strong summer and will be looking to use her strong board leg in seeking an advantage over the field.
A major threat to Welborn is multi Australian and world junior champion Lily O'Sullivan. Other strong contenders on the line will be Piper Harrison , Emily Maythers, and Sydney Water Series round two winner and Illawarra local Sarah Locke.
Bulli competitors who will be amongst the leaders in their respective events include Fletcher James, Madison Jones and Stephanie Staniforth. The under-13s state championship-winning Bulli quartet of Zahnie Freeman, Sadie Jones, Andie Kennedy and Heidi Morris will be confident given their recent form and knowledge of home conditions.
The Sydney Water Series /Summer of Surf round final package will begin at 12.15pm on Sunday, following the preliminary rounds and age group races from 8.30am.
Saturday will see all junior (under-eights to under-13s) events held, as well as senior beach events.
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