RYAN Callinan and Morgan Cibilic as seeded entrants, and Jackson 'Jacko' Baker and Philippa Anderson as wildcards.
These are the four Newcastle surfers - along with "adopted son" Julian Wilson - who will be carrying the hopes of local fans in the World Surf League's Rip Curl Newcastle Cup, an unexpected Easter egg for the Hunter, thanks to COVID-driven changes to the WSL's World Championship Tour.
Callinan, especially, is a global sensation, but where do he and Newcastle's fan favourite Phillipa Anderson sit in the pantheon of Newcastle surfers over the years?
That's a question that the Newcastle Herald will explore in coming days as we count down the region's best 10 men and best 10 women surfers, as judged by a storied panel of surfing experts.
In recent days I've gathered "Top 10" lists from a range of surfing identities, led by "Mr Surfest", Warren Smith, who has also played a major role in bringing this top-flight WSL event to Newcastle.
Michelle Kent, a highly respected surfer and the driving force behind the Trimmin' Women's surfing group, has worked hard to gather a wealth of information about the competitive women's side of things.
Redhead surfer John Harvey has put in 40 years behind the scenes, as a judge and contest director with Newcastle Surfing Association, and as Surfest contest coordinator. He is a younger cousin of early Newcastle great, the late "Lord" Ted Harvey.
Professional surfing needs prize money and if there is one name synonymous with surf sponsorship in the Hunter it's the Burton Family Toyota group, headed by lifelong surfer Kim Burton, whose businesses have poured, on his calculation, at least $2 million into the sport since 2004.
Terry McKenna, known as "the voice of Australian surfing" for his decades behind the microphone as a contest commentator was a highly regarded touring pro before turning to commentating and coaching.
I've thrown my two-bob's worth in, and we have been helped by Merewether Surfboard Club stalwart Tim Ryan, Herald Beachwatch writer Dave Anderson, and various highly regarded Hunter surfing figures.
Ranking competitors in any sport across the different eras is a challenging exercise, and surfing is no exception.
Contest results will always be the main factor considered, but digital technology has enabled the rise of high-profile "free surfers" - high among them being Philippa's brother Craig Anderson - who are paid to travel the globe with filmers in tow to lay down their freakish performances in the world's best waves.
And, with surfing now well and truly in the "aerial" age, in the sky high above the water.
After days of enthusiastic debate, our team has come up with its list, and we will be giving you readers the opportunity next week to cast your own votes.
A certain four-time world champion will always be the man that everyone thinks of when great Newcastle surfing comes to mind, but the rest of the spots in the men's rankings could keep a table of fans arguing for a week.
And in the women's list, you'll meet a crew of pioneering waterwomen who have forged their way in a sport that didn't always welcome them.
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