Surfers from around New Zealand will this weekend descend upon Sandy Bay as part of the 2013 Hyundai Tour, giving Northland's Wini Paul a chance to defend the longboard division she won last year.
For the first time this year, the Hyundai Tour will have its two top internationally-ranked surfers present with Thomas Kibblewhite, of Auckland, returning from Canada to join 23-year-old Sandy Bay local Paul.
This weekend's three-day surf contest, which starts today, will see both Kibblewhite and Paul add some extra flair to what has already been a successful start to the tour after its first two rounds, in Raglan and Piha.
Kibblewhite and Paul have qualified for the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Longboard Championship later this year for their respective male and female divisions.
The pair will be the first Kiwi surfers to contest the event since 2003 when Raglan's Michael Thomson secured a wildcard to compete at the event held at Raglan.
Mangawhai's Matt Cockayne will be hoping to chase down the runaway leader in the men's longboard division, Daniel Procter, who is unable to attend this weekend's showdown. Cockayne, currently fourth, must win the event to overtake Procter in the rankings
After the crowd-pleasing "Logger" Expression Session took place at the first event of the tour held at Raglan in early January, the traditionalists will be back at it again at Sandy Bay.
Restricted to "old school" longboards with single fins, surfers will be battling for an extended prize pool awarded to the best two surfers of the session as well as the surfer who completes the best nose ride.
This weekend's event also marks the first time a long distance stand-up paddleboard race will be held as part of the tour. Paddlers will complete a 10km coastal run on the Saturday with interest in the race building from a number of paddlers.
This will be complemented by the shorter King of the Waves race contested through the Sandy Bay line up which will be held on Sunday.
The exceptional run of swell on the East Coast of the North Island is expected to continue into the weekend with a 2.0m northeast swell expected to peak early today before decreasing through the three days of surfing.
Overall the Hyundai Tour boasts $12,000 in prize money which is boosted to $20,000 with another $8000 distributed to boardrider clubs and community groups at locations the tour frequents.