Pro surf contest kicks off at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach

Under sunny skies and a warm offshore breeze, professional surfers hit the water at Ocean Beach on Tuesday morning for the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco.

Hundreds of spectators flocked to the beach to see the 36 surfers, including surf legend Kelly Slater, at the event, which is expected to run for a total of 27.5 hours over four days.

The Pro Search contest is the 10th of 11 events in the Association of Surfing Professionals’ World Tour and is held in a different spot around the world each year. It came to San Francisco after being held in Puerto Rico, Portugal and Indonesia in recent years.

Slater, 39, the reigning 10-time ASP world champion, has a chance to clinch his 11th title if he advances through just two heats in the competition.

The event is being held on the northern end of Ocean Beach near stairways 18-20 and is being streamed online in a free webcast at www.live.ripcurl.com.

Early in the morning there was a slight scare after surfer Dusty Payne, of Hawaii, said he saw a shark just outside of the breaking waves. Payne left the water in the middle of a competition heat.

Several reports from the scene after the sighting said that it was a dolphin out in the water and not a shark.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.