It's safe to say that a decade ago Paige Hareb would never have expected she'd travel to inland California in search of the perfect wave.
But that wild idea becomes reality for the Kiwi surfer this weekend – and she won't be alone.
Hareb will compete in the inaugural Founders' Cup event this weekend at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore.
The ground-breaking competition gets underway on Sunday, and will see surfers from around the world team up for the first time in World Surf League history and look to make the most of a perfect wave that was 10 years in the making.
The 27-year-old Kiwi was one of five athletes competing for Team World this weekend, taking on teams of five from Australia, USA, Brazil and Europe.
Among the other names in the competition included current world champions John John Florence (USA) and Tyler Wright (Australia), and a host of former champions including Kelly Slater (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) and the recently retired Mick Fanning (Australia).
"They're all amazing surfers going," Hareb said. "I'm taking my Mick Fanning t-shirt to hopefully get signed by him."
In the opening round, each surfer will get six waves – three right-hand, three left-hand – spread over three runs. Each athlete's top two waves score into the team's total, with the three highest-scoring teams progressing to the finals.
The finals will see a more traditional format of surfing competition, with each member of the three remaining teams surfing in a three-person heat. In the heats, each surfer will ride two waves and be given points for where they place.
The team with the highest points haul after all five heats will claim the Founders' Cup.
The competition, which had no impact on the Championship Tour standings, will be the first of seven event on Hareb's schedule between May 1 and August 6, with stops in Brazil, Bali, Mexico, South Africa before heading back to the States.
And while she hadn't seen the results she had hoped for in the opening three events in her return to the CT, Hareb remained focused on the long season ahead.
"Losing sucks, but I've been losing to world champions. I've had a tough draw but some of them were pretty close so that's given me some confidence," she said.
Jordy Smith – captain (South Africa)
Paige Hareb (New Zealand)
Michel Bourez (French Polynesia)
Bianca Buitendag (South Africa)
Kanoa Igarashi (Japan)
Stephanie Gilmore – captain
Kelly Slater – captain
John John Florence
Johanne Defay – captain (France)
Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy)
Frankie Harrer (Germany)
Jeremy Flores (France)
Frederico Morais (Portugal)
Gabriel Medina – captain
Adriano de Souza