Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore admitted to nerves as she and fellow Tokyo Olympian Sally Fitzgibbons booked semi-final spots at the Tweed Coast Pro in their return to competitive surfing.
With the international World Surf League Tour cancelled due to coronavirus, the Tweed Coast Pro is Australia's first professional surf competition in months.
Gilmore advanced straight into the quarter-finals in the all-Australian women's contest by posting the highest score with 15.93 in small, inconsistent conditions on Sunday at Cabarita Beach in northern NSW.
Fitzgibbons came off second best in a tight tussle with two-time world champion, fellow Australian Tyler Wright in their three-surfer heat.
Before paddling out, Wright used the event to make a social justice statement, kneeling on the beach beside her board emblazoned with Black Lives Matter for 439 seconds - one for each Aboriginal death in custody since 1991.
Fitzgibbons made a stand of her own in the elimination round with a commanding win over Holly Wawn.
Wright and Fitzgibbons will clash again in Monday's quarter-final while Gilmore will face Zahli Kelly.
Despite her years of experience Gilmore said she felt "really nervous" about competing for the first time since December.
"It's so wild to think It's been this long since the last event we all surfed in," Gilmore said.
"I was actually really nervous before I paddled out and was getting all of those feelings you get when competing which was great.
"This is the longest I've been in one spot since I was 17 so I've really been able to focus on getting my body right and my equipment dialled in which is great."
Macy Callaghan and Isabella Nicholls as well as Nikki Van Dijk and Molly Picklum make up the other quarter-finals.
The Wrights were well represented with Tokyo Olympian Owen and younger brother Mikey both joining their sister Tyler in the quarter-finals.
Owen, the highest-ranked male in the field, will take on young Queenslander Ethan Ewing, who pulled off the highest-scored wave of the day with a 9.17 in his elimination win.
Owen said he also loved getting back in the competition zone.
"I've been really enjoying the time at home and away from competition but as soon as I got here and got back into my training I felt all of the competitive instincts come back like I was back in the zone," he said.
Mikey will meet South African Matthew McGillivray in the final eight.
Julian Wilson, who is also on Australia's Olympic team, will take on Jack Robinson, who got the better of him in their heat.
Connor O'Leary and Adrian Buchan are the other quarter-finalists.
Meanwhile, there's a dedicated jet in the water for every surfer, a shark spotting drone and extra surveillance on the beaches after last week's fatal shark attack 20km north.