Bondi Beach turned on perfect racing conditions for the opening round of the Nutri-Grain IronMan & IronWoman Series, with a perfect 3-4 foot swell providing plenty of thrills and spills.

With a gruelling 40 minute M-shaped course lying between them and the round one title, all 40 athletes were raring to go.

It was a case of de ja vu in the men’s competition, with reigning IronMan Champion Ali Day storming home to take out round one.

Unforgiving surf challenged the seasoned performer, who was unlucky to miss many of the waves dished up to his rivals.

“It was hard out there, but it’s what you expect an M-shape to be and you wouldn’t expect anything different from the opening round,” Day said.

“I’m lucky enough that I’ve been in the Series for over a decade now, so I’ve been 20 years old before and made mistakes, been up there and been at the back.

“I think now you just learn how to handle it a little bit more. In saying that, I don’t think I’m perfect – there’s still a lot to learn,” he said.

While Day managed to do all the hard work from the front with his Surfers Paradise training partner Finn Askew (20 years old) in tow, the chase packs managed to jag the solid waves breaking on the way home to keep the leaders in check.

With Day breaking through a set of waves in the final ski leg, it was enough to distance himself from the pack.  Askew had an unlucky wave on the home to shore, that saw Jy Timperley (Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park) and Kendrick Louis (Manly) round out the podium after a run up the beach.

“It was so good to see Finn up there today – I think he deserves better than fifth,” Day said.

“And welcoming back someone like Kendrick (Louis) – there’s a lot of really good guys in the field this year.

“It’s going to make for some interesting racing tomorrow and Sunday,” he said.

In the IronWoman race, Harriet Brown (Northcliffe) made a sensational return to racing after an ankle injury last year sidelined her for the last round of the 2021 Series.

She set up a commanding lead in the final board leg, 35 seconds in front of the chase pack.

“I was pretty nervous before the race, but I like the Enduro format, and even though I had a bit of a slower start, I knew there was time to work my way up,” Brown said.

“Having a fair bit of a lead, I had to do it all myself and I just knew that I had to keep the pace on, keep consistent and not make any mistakes.

“Because any mistakes I made could have given the other girls an opportunity to catch up,” she said.

In a run up the beach for the minor placings, it was defending Nutri-Grain IronWoman Series Champion Lana Rogers (Alexandra Headland) and Hannah Sculley (Northcliffe) who snatched the prize.

Racing will return tomorrow, with athletes to compete in the new WaveCross format. Round 2 of the Nutri-Grain IronMan and IronWoman Series will broadcast live via Channel 9GO! and Sky Sport NZ from 11am AEDT.

For all the results and points from today'[s series opener – click here.