Olympic champion Carissa Moore has started well at the World Surfing Games ©Getty Images

Olympic champion Carissa Moore started strongly as she recorded the best women's heat score on day one of the World Surfing Games in El Salvador.

The American, from Hawaii, tallied 16.16 at El Sunzal as the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist and five-time World Surf League (WSL) champion demonstrated powerful rail work to top the pile.

Moore's compatriot Caroline Marks claimed the highest single wave score of the day of 8.50, helping her to second in the round one heat list on 14.50.

Brazil's Silvana Lima was third on 14.07.

In the men's event at La Bocana, Brazil's three-time WSL winner Gabriel Medina registered the best round one heat score of 16.43, largely thanks to a superb backhand air attack.

Sebastián Hernández of Mexico took to the sky to claim the best individual wave score of 8.33 and was second in the heat standings with 16.34, while Peru's Alonso Correa was third on 15.23.

A group of four men and four women will book their spots for surfing's second Olympic appearance at Paris 2024, where the sport will be held more than 9,000 miles away in Tahiti, through the World Surfing Games.

These will be the highest ranked surfers from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania - with the Olympic qualification spots for the Americas coming through this year's Pan American Games in Santiago.

Brazil's Gabriel Medina set the best heat score in the men's competition ©Getty Images
Brazil's Gabriel Medina set the best heat score in the men's competition ©Getty Images

It means that South Africa's Sarah Baum has positioned herself strongly for African qualification in the women's event thanks to her third best wave score of 8.17, which helped her to the 10th best heat total.

Poland's Maksymilian Michalewski recorded the seventh best men's heat score of 13.30, making a strong start in his quest for a European spot.

Only two surfers will be able to qualify from the same country for the Paris 2024 men's and women's events, and Medina is currently behind team-mates João Chianca and Filipe Toledo in the WSL rankings.

"It's step-by-step, we have great competitors coming from Brazil," Medina said. 

"There's only two spots and it's exciting to be there fighting for one of those spots. 

"I love Tahiti, it's my favorite (sic) stop on tour and I really want to be in the Olympics next year. 

"I'll do what I can to make it through, let's see how it goes." 

Men's and women's round one action is due to continue tomorrow.

El Sunzal and La Bocana are known as Surf City and have become a regular venue for major surfing events, having hosted the World Surfing Games in 2021.