The 2018 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship is set to get underway tomorrow in Wanning in China.
Waves in the head-high to overhead range are expected to greet the world's best SUP surfers at China's renowned left-hand point break, Riyue Bay.
The Opening Ceremony, involving nearly 200 athletes from 26 countries participating in the parade of nations and Sands of the World Ceremony, is scheduled to be held tomorrow.
Australia’s Shakira Westdorp and Brazil’s Luiz Diniz, both gold medallists in 2017, will take to the water to defend their titles when the SUP surfing begins tomorrow.
The SUP and paddleboard technical races will follow later in the week, next Tuesday (November 27) and Wednesday (November 28), also at Riyue Bay.
The event will then continue to a finish at Shenzhou Peninsula, from November 30 to December 2, with SUP sprints, distance races and the relay races to decide the team world champions.
"Expanding SUP into new countries and regions of the world is a key priority for the ISA," ISA President Fernando Aguerre said.
"This was one of the primary factors for coming to China and Wanning, a well-known surf spot and partner of the ISA.
"This is the fourth continent that the event has been held on in seven years, which is representative of the global appeal and inclusive nature of the sport under the ISA's leadership.
"The ISA is proud to gather the world's best SUP and paddleboard athletes here in Wanning, setting the stage for an epic week of country pride, competition, camaraderie and glory.
"We are also excited to lead the path for gender equality in the sport, offering a gender equal competition format for the second year in a row.
"I wish the best of luck to the international competitors as we commence this historic week of competition."
Wanning was announced as a replacement host for Búzios in Brazil in June.
The ISA said that the City of Búzios was "unable to meet their contractual obligations according to the hosting agreement signed with the ISA in November 2017".
"As a result, the ISA was obliged to secure a new host in order to ensure the successful delivery of the SUP World Championship at the high standard set in previous years," a statement added.
It came amid the argument between the ISA and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) over who has the right to control SUP events.
An inaugural Stand-Up Paddling World Championships due to be organised by the ICF in Portugal was cancelled in August.
The decision to scrap the event was made following a ruling by the Portuguese Court of Arbitration for Sport that the national surfing body had exclusive control of the discipline.
It was a major blow in the ICF's attempt to gain a share of a stand-up paddling market also claimed by the ISA, who reacted jubilantly to the Portuguese court decision.
The event had been due to take place from August 30 to September 2 in Esposende and Viana do Castelo.
A first ISA-organised World SUP Championship was held in Peru in 2012.
Nicaragua, Mexico, Fiji and Denmark have followed as hosts over the last four years.