Chasing gold: Daniel Bannerman joins coach and training partner Mark Sutton for a break as they train at Coffs Jetty for tomorrow’s Coolangatta Gold.
Chasing gold: Daniel Bannerman joins coach and training partner Mark Sutton for a break as they train at Coffs Jetty for tomorrow’s Coolangatta Gold. Trevor Veale

Chasing Coolangatta Gold

ALL eyes will be on the Gold Coast tomorrow with a big Coffs Coast representation in the iconic Coolangatta Gold.

High-profile former Sawtell athletes Courtney and Bonnie Hancock, now with Northcliffe, lead the charge among the women.

But the toughest task has been presented to Coffs-based duo Daniel Bannerman and Mark Sutton, who will take all the big names on level terms in the open men’s division.

For Sutton, this will be his first attempt.

However, Bannerman made a big impression at his maiden outing in 2009 when he placed 47th in the time of five hours, 11 minutes.

“There was a big southerly last year and we have been told to expect the same this time around,” Bannerman said.

“I’m hoping to go under five hours this time with the extra preparations.”

Linking up with Sutton as a training partner has made a huge difference to Bannerman.

“Mark is an absolute gun on the ski and he’s coached me to really better my times,” he revealed.

“After training for the past 14 weeks I’ve found I can paddle a lot faster and feel I can reduce my times on the leg by around 10 minutes alone.

“An ideal time would be about four hours 50 minutes, but just to finish would be something else.

“In the open section, you are up against all comers ... all the big names, everybody.

“Tactics and conditions mean a lot, but we’re happy with the build-up.”

Caine Eckstein goes into the event as red hot favourite to continue his history-making assault on the race he has made his own with victories in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

On form the 24-year-old from the Gold Coast should celebrate the 10th staging of the iconic Coolangatta Gold with a fourth victory from four starts.

Caine is a complete ironman who has chalked up some great performances in open water ski events.

An outstanding swimmer, board paddler and natural-born runner, he doesn’t have a weak leg.



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