After a day of outstanding surf Wednesday, organizers of the 48th annual East Coast Surfing Championships at the Oceanfront were expecting conditions to diminish for much of Thursday's preliminary heats.
There's nothing like a good surprise."It's actually been pretty good," competition director Paul West said early Thursday afternoon. "The tide is going out right now, and that's the worst time. But you can see we've still got some decent sets rolling in."
Good news for a guy who is trying to pare a field that started at more than 800 competing in 34 divisions for amateurs and professionals.
West said he already had narrowed most adult amateur divisions to the finals. He expected to have most other amateur divisions down to the same point by the end of today.
Some professional preliminaries have concluded, and more will take place today to get the fiel down to the "main event" - essentially the quarterfinals.
West said only the hottest surfers will be left Saturday, when ground swells being pushed in from Hurricane Danielle are expected to arrive.
"The weekend will be nothing but the best," West said. "Some of the best pros in the world are here - the people you see in the surfing magazines."West said Saturday's pro heats will surround two special events - the Quiksilver Super Grom for the youngest surfers and the Joel Tudor Duck Tape Invitational longboard showcase.
"The Joel Tudor is going to be pretty awesome," West said. "Some of the best longboard surfers in the world are going to be here. They'll be surfing on old-style boards that have to weigh at least 12 pounds and have single fins. They're very difficult to surf on. But these folks are the best, and the bigger swells could help."
In the Super Grom, children will catch waves with the assistance of adults. Since its inception at the ECSC a decade ago, the Super Grom has become one of the most popular spectator portions of the event.
West said competitors are putting forth their best efforts to make it to the weekend's better conditions - which, according to Wave Watch, should be overhead by Sunday.
"We're going to have some of the best amateur and professional surfers showing off their stuff all day Sunday, and they're going to be doing it on a hurricane swell," West said, beaming. "No way you could ask for anything more than that."