STEVE Noble from Cape Paterson will need to perform well in the remaining rounds of the Victorian Open Series after the surfing competition opened on Saturday.
Noble is the defending champion but struggled with the conditions to finish fourth at the opening round at Gunnamatta.
Phillip Island surfer Carl Wright is in the hunt, finishing second – only .4 of a point short of taking the win.
Josh Johnson-Baxter (Ocean Grove) and Georgia Fish (Flinders) won the first round in the men’s and women’s categories respectively.
The Open Men’s final was one of the most exciting finals in recent history with multiple excellent scoring rides throughout the final.
Open Men: 1st Josh Johnson-Baxter (Ocean Grove); 2nd Carl Wright (Phillip Island); 3rd Caiden Fowler (Tuerong); 4th Steve Noble (Cape Paterson).
Open Women: 1st Georgia Fish (Flinders); 2nd Jemima Hutchins (Barwon Heads); 3rd Rebecca Morgan (Jan Juc); 4th Ella Sweeney (Jan Juc).
Phillip Island surfer Sophie Fletcher did
Round 2 will be at Phillip Island (location TBA) on February 13, before moving to Bells Beach on September 3 for the final round.
Challenge laid down for reigning champ