The men's round of 32 is likely to be completed at the World Surf League event in Newcastle on Thursday.
After an incident-packed Tuesday which featured the elimination of leading Australian women Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons, the focus at Merewether Beach will be on the 11 Australian men aiming to reach the final 16.
"With the waves on offer and the outgoing tide, we anticipate the conditions continuing to improve throughout the morning," WSL head of competition Jessi Miley-Dyer said.
"The swell is expected to increase throughout the day as well, so we're hoping to get all 16 heats of men's round of 32 completed today."
Cronulla product Connor O'Leary was first in the water, taking on two-time Brazilian world champion Gabriel Medina in the clean, two-to-four foot waves.
Other Australians in action on Thursday include Adrian Buchan, Wade Carmichael, Ryan Callinan and Owen Wright.
There's also an all-Australian battle between Olympics-bound Julian Wilson and Jack Robinson.
Australian Associated Press