Local Surf Lifesaving endurance athletes got the rare chance to compete at home when the Inaugural Coolangatta Gold at Bate Bay was held on Saturday at Wanda.
The iconic Queensland Coolangatta Gold race was cancelled due to the current border restrictions in place due to COVID-19, and three other regional events organised.
Bate Bay competitors put it to the visitors at Wanda with Carla Papac and Jay Furniss both finishing third, but it was Newport's Lizzie Welborn and North Bondi's Charlie Verco that took out the main event.
The 25km race attracted 315 competitors in both individual and team events across Open, Masters and Youth. The race had competitors start at Wanda, paddle to Hungry Point in the 12.5km ski leg before returning to Wanda to complete a 2.5km Swim and 4.5km board legs finishing with a 5.5km run from Wanda to North Cronulla and back.
Wanda SLSC Director of Surf Sports Greg Pierce praised the efforts of all involved, and declared the event a resounding success, acknowledging the joint efforts of Wanda SLSC, Sydney Branch, SLSNSW and SLSA in helping to run the carnival with the support of the Sutherland Shire Council, Tourism & Events Queensland, Shaw and Partners and volunteers.
"We are already thinking about 2021, how we can build on it, improve and make it better. We also think that there is a definite need for it," said Pierce.
"We think that this can become a stepping stone to the Coolangatta Gold on the Gold Coast and I heard several people at the event say, 'well now I can think about the 41km race' and it might even encourage more people to do endurance racing," Pierce said
Winner Welborn (2:38:47) was dominant finishing five minutes ahead of clubmate Emily Doyle with Wanda local Carla Papac finishing third while Male winner Verco (2:26:16) finished just over a minute ahead of Newports Jackson Borg with Cronulla's Jay Furniss finishing close behind.
The Elouera Pink team of paddlers Nathan Neale and Chris King, swimmer Harry Came and runner Samuel Mood took first place in the Open Teams event in a winning time of 2:24:32.