The Azores Airlines World Masters Championship launched today in good three-to-four foot surf at praia de Santa Barbara, on the north shore of Sao Miguel island in the Azores archipelago. This World Surf League specialty event crowning the World Champions of surfing in age categories over 45, brought back some of the most successful competitive surfers of all time for an exciting first day of action.

The Azores delivered a picture-perfect summer day with scorching heat and playful waves. Action got underway mid-morning with a clash for the ages, Luke Egan (AUS) against 2000 World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW). Both surfers found decent waves early on to build house but it was Garcia who put on a good combination of backhand turns for a 6.50 and the lead mid heat. But the Australian goofy foot started on a goof left on the five-minute mark and destroyed it with multiple carves for 7.10 and the win.

In the following heat unfortunately the ocean turned deadly quiet and while four-time World Champion Tom Curren (USA) managed to start on a few low-scoring rides, Gary Elkerton (AUS) could not find a single wave and made his way in with a 0.00 point total. The Australian, a former Pipe Master and Triple Crown of Surfing winner will have two more chances to fight it out against Shane Beschen (HAW) and Matt Hoy (AUS) for a spot into the semis.

Two-time World Champion Damian Hardmann (AUS) showed no signs of slowing down and picked up his competitive act right up with a dominant show on the lefts of Santa Barbara to take a first win over Derek Ho (HAW).

Portuguese wildcard Joao Alexandre posted the event’s first upset in defeating Dave Macaulay(AUS) with aggressive forehand surfing on the good lefts as well.

But the opening day’s biggest performance came from “rookie” Jake Paterson (AUS), the youngest competitor in the draw, with an amazing display in Heat 6. The two-time QS champion and perennial Championship Tour threat, now a coach for some of the world’s best surfers, ripped the lefts to pieces on his backhand and posted the event’s first excellent score of 8.83.

In the Grand Masters (Over 55), Rob Bain (AUS) dominated the opening day in which a few surfers went out there twice. Bain did surf twice and posted two big wins, over the defending Grand Masters Champion Iain Buchanan (NZL) first and then compatriot Glen Winton (AUS). In the latter matchup, Bain claimed two 7+ waves for his incredible forehand attack of the wedgy lefts of Santa Barbara.

The other form surfers this afternoon was Simon Anderson (AUS) who also claimed two heat wins over Hawaiians Michael Ho and Buzzy Kerbox.

Competitors will be back Wednesday for a 10:45 a.m call for the women’s Masters event only, while the men will come in later at 1 p.m to potentially resume the Masters and/or Grand Masters draws.

Watch the event LIVE via wsl.tv/azores18.