There were thrills, spills and plenty of action on the second day of the Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships at North Burleigh on the Gold Coast.
The day saw some of the biggest names in ironman racing hit the surf and sand in their quest for glory, with the likes of Shannon and Caine Eckstein, Ali Day, Matt Poole and Matt Bevilacqua all successfully navigating their way through the early qualifying rounds and into tomorrow morning’s semi-finals.
The semi-final will see the field of 16 reduced to just eight competitors for tomorrow afternoon’s final.
Defending champion Matt Bevilacqua cruised through his heat to remain on track to win back-to-back titles. He’ll need to defy history with only three people having successfully defended their Queensland titles in the past 30 years – Trevor Hendy, Zane Holmes and Shannon Eckstein.
“I’ve heard that fact, and it’s pretty crazy, but it just goes to show how hard it is to do and especially with the depth you see in the Queensland ironman final,” he said.
“Winning it again would be massive, it’d be huge for me, but I’ll just be gunning in that semi tomorrow morning to hopefully make the final, and then I’ll take it step by step from there. That’s normally how my good results come,” he said.
Bevilacqua tipped Kurrawa club-mate Matt Poole and Northcliffe’s Shannon Eckstein as the men to beat.
“Pooley [Matt Poole] had a couple of bad rounds early on in the Ironman Series, but after that he proved himself to be the second best behind Shannon,” he said.
“I think both of those guys will be the biggest threats, particularly in the conditions we’ve seen this weekend. But it’s really open to anyone; there’s a little tricky swell, a lot of water moving out there and the back bank’s really tricky.
“I think it’s anyone’s race, and you’ve just got to concentrate on making that final and then hope for the best,” he said.
The ironwomen bypassed qualifying events to move straight into semi-finals tomorrow morning, with the likes of Courtney Hancock, Jordan Mercer, Kirsty Higgison and Rebecca Creedy all set to line up.
There were plenty of strong performances across the day, both on the sand and in the surf.
Northcliffe’s Ella Coates took out the open female 2km beach run, with Point Lookout’s Patrick Hagan winning the open male event.
Currumbin showed their class in the team events, taking out the udner-19 surf ski relay, open female and female surf ski relays, open male surf board relay and the under-19 male surf board relay. Meanwhile Northcliffe reigned supreme in the open female surf board relay.
Prue Davis from Currumbin won the under-19 female ironwoman, ahead of Northcliffe’s Grace Rosato and Maroochydore’s Cassie Lee.
Kurrawa’s Melissa Cracroft-Wilson took out the open female beach flags ahead of club-mate Bree Masters, while Simon Legend took out the men’s ahead of Christopher Baroni.
The action continues on the third and final day of the championships at North Burleigh tomorrow.
For full results, please click here