OPENING DAY AT POINT DANGER
Stoking out the groms! / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
This morning saw 27 riders register for the event here at Point Danger with its impressive views of some of the seemingly countless breaks that run along Victoria's legendary Surf Coast.
Point Danger will set the stage for the final battle of the Kite-Surf World Tour 2018 between a competitive field that includes numerous tour heavyweights and a host of homegrown talent.
Signing on the line / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Besides the regular tour riders, this stop will see a sizeable Australian contingent taking part with ten Aussie riders in the mix including four girls who make up a significant part of the nine-strong women's division at this event.
Many of the Australian riders earned their spot here at the KSWT Torquay via wildcard entry after placing highly at the Australian National Champs which wrapped up here earlier this week.
Overall, the women count for a third of the competitive field here which is a first at a Kite-Surf World Tour event and it's great to such a strong turnout in that division.
Consistent swell was apparent at times / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Looking ahead, this week's forecast is changeable but there's plenty of potential on the horizon. The wind came through late in the afternoon on Wednesday and built up to steady 10-11 metre kite strength, but high tide had covered the reef causing the waves to back off and they weren't up to competition standard as the first riders hit the water to warm up.
As the aim is for this to be a wave-focused event, so in this early stage the decision was made not to run heats rather than revert to strapless freestyle on the first day of competition.
So, with no day one action to analyse, it's a good time to look at possible routes to the podium for the riders assembled here in Torquay.
Airton studies the form / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Airton Cozzolino has the 2018 World Title fully sewn up. He's absolutely dominated this year's tour, losing only one event in Portugal to Matchu Lopes, but the lower podium positions are still up for grabs.
Matchu currently holds second but he could yet be unseated by Keahi de Aboitiz if Keahi wins the event here in Torquay. In fact, if Keahi met Matchu in a final and beat him they would finish the tour tied on points BUT Keahi would still take second overall due to having placed higher at the last event in Brazil. It'd be a true nail biter if that one went down!
Matchu's out to make it happen here in Torquay / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
If Mitu Monteiro wins the event ahead of Keahi then he could push up to third overall, but it would be very hard for him to go any higher and Matchu would only need to make the final to retain second place.
Outside the four podium spots, Camille Delannoy is in fifth place right now after a storming event in Brazil where he beat Airton Cozzolino in the single eliminations before coming second to him in the doubles.
He can make it to fourth overall if he places higher than Mitu at this event though and Jan Marcos Riveras also has a chance of breaking into the top five if he places higher than Camille.
Camille letting loose after his stunning performance last month in Brazil / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
It's a winner-takes-all scenario this week for Carla Herrera Oria and Jalou Langeree. Jalou currently leads so the title's hers to lose but if Carla beats her in the final she'll take 2018 overall win.
Jalou Langeree rocking up at morning registration alongside Roderick Pijls and Charlotte Carpentier / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Charlotte Carpentier is looking solid in third but could push up to second if Carla finishes in sixth place or below and Johanna Catharina Edin has an outside shot at moving up from fourth to third as well.
She'd need to win the event outright with Carla finishing in seventh place or lower for that to happen but anything's possible in competition!
Charlotte Carpentier, Carla Herrera Oria and Johanna Catharina Edin taking in the table / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
There's also the possibility of local wildcards causing an upset and that could well happen with the current Australian women's top four all in the mix here at the KSWT Torquay.
They've all competed at Point Danger in the last few days so perhaps they'll be able to bring that experience to bear on the international stage!
Australian women's number four Frances Kelly from Forster, Tuncurry, at the first riders briefing / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
Could Carew crush it at KSWT Torquay?
Speaking of threats from riders outside the top fives, Australian ripper James Carew will be one to watch in the men's division fresh off the back of his win at the Aussie Nationals over the weekend.
This is one of his home breaks, and it's safe to say he knows how to make it work having beaten Keahi in the finals right here a couple of days ago.
James has had an incredible season on the 2018 KSWT, including winning the Big Air event at Sotavento, and has been known to cause problems for many a top flight tour rider at previous events so he has every chance at making the final here as well.
Carew ready to drop the hammer on home turf / Photo: Ydwer van der Heide
So no competition in the bag today but Thursday's forecast shows solid wind on the horizon with a building swell. Let's see what the morning brings!
Here's the day one wrap-up
SEE HOW THE 2018 RANKINGS LOOK AFTER SIX EVENTS
Find the men's and women's current rankings