Unsure of racing for gold again

Locals heading to the Coolangatta Gold event, Daniel Bannerman and Mark Sutton.
Locals heading to the Coolangatta Gold event, Daniel Bannerman and Mark Sutton.

LOOKING back on their experiences in the Coolangatta Gold on the weekend, Daniel Bannerman and Mark Sutton aren’t certain they’ll be so keen to line up for next year’s event.

The hot weather, big surf and a series of unfortunate events didn’t help their chances against the biggest names in surf sport.

But at least in the case of Bannerman, competing against such a hot field opened his eyes to the effort needed to be successful at this elite level.

“We were very happy just to finish because for a couple of guys like us, there’s an enormous amount of work to even get that far,” he said.

“Mark was talking to Caine Eckstein who said he spends six months preparing for the one event, with three training sessions every day.

“With Mark, who’s a builder, that’s impossible.

“In my case I’ve just set up Kororo Swim School with 50 young kids in my care and there’s no way I would up and leave them to head down to the Jetty for a training session.

“So as far as next year goes, I’d have to think a bit more about it.”

Apart from the heavy seas, the deep water start meant a 15-minute crawl to get to the jump-off point.

Even before those misadventures, there were reports of grumbling among competitors when a power failure disrupted a briefing session with further confusion caused by the staggered start difficulties.

“Once I got under way I got smashed in the water off Currumbin,” Bannerman said.

“So I was pleasantly surprised when I found the ski time was two minutes under what was recorded the year before.”

Overall, Bannerman’s time was 5:45.38 putting him in 111th place in the Open division and 43rd in his category.

Sutton completed the journey in 6:37.24 which gave him 164th place behind race winner Eckstein but 38th in his Masters 40-plus category.

“In that photo of us we’d just met up again after the finish of the event and the blood was still pumping,” he added.

Eckstein raced away from his rivals to win his fourth Coolangatta Gold title – with this one his third straight.

It makes him the most successful competitor in the history of the 46.65-kilometre event.

“I was keen to back up and win for three times in a row,” Eckstein reflected after crossing the finish line.

“I’m not going to say how many times I might be able to win but I love this race.

“I’ve loved the training for it.”