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Surf sport stars stake their claims for gold

There were thrills, spills and plenty of action on Day Two of the Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships at Maroochydore Beach on the Sunshine Coast.

The day saw some of the sport’s biggest names hit the surf and sand in their quest for state glory, with the likes of Shannon and Caine Eckstein, Ky Hurst and Matt Poole all successfully navigating their way through the early qualifying rounds and into tomorrow morning’s ironman semi-finals.

However it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the sport’s superstars, with reigning Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain series champion Ali Day knocked out of ironman contention after failing to make it through the quarter-final heats.

In the women’s, reigning Australian champion Liz Pluimers, defending Queensland champion Jordan Mercer and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Rebecca Creedy all successfully qualified for Sunday afternoon’s ironwoman final.

Noosa’s Jordan Mercer said she was looking forward to lining up tomorrow in her bid for back-to-back ironwoman titles.

“We’ve had so much racing this season so it’s really important to remember that this is the state titles; it’s not just another local carnival,” she said.

“We’re at the business end of the season now and after the State Championships, all we have left is the Aussies, so it’s really important to make sure that every race you line up for, you’re focused on making it through the qualifying rounds into those finals and giving yourself the best possible chance of taking out a state title.”

Five-time Coolangatta Gold champion will spearhead a Gold Coast assault on tomorrow’s finals including the ironman and taplin relay.

“It’s obviously a big couple of days with lots of events across the weekend. The ironman’s always a big one for me but at Northcliffe we have such a strong club, and I definitely get more nervous going into things like the taplin relay and the board relay. The ironman’s just about me, but when you’re racing with four or five other guys alongside you, there’s a bit more pressure to perform,” he said.

Mooloolaba’s Matt Poole has also qualified for the ironman semi-finals and, after finishing third in this summer’s Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain series, will line up as one of the sport’s form athletes.

“The conditions were tough and tricky out there – the ocean’s all over the place and the turn of the tide is making it really exciting and challenging for us. But those are the best kinds of conditions to race in, so everyone’s really happy and enjoying themselves,” he said.

“It was a tough first round in that ironman because the swim leg is so unpredictable – even if you get out in front in the board and ski you still have to dig deep and have a go in that final swim leg because anything could happen.”

Despite lining up in 11 events across the weekend, Poole was confident he would have plenty of energy left for a tilt at his maiden Queensland ironman title.

“I’ve signed up for a big program and I’ll be doing a lot of events in quite a short period of time. I’m trying to conserve energy as much as I can in my races, particularly in the heats, but it’s pretty hard when you get to the state titles and it’s so competitive,” he said.

“It’s important to conserve energy when you can because you definitely want to be firing and going 100 per cent in those finals.”

While the majority of races on the second day of competition were heats for finals on Sunday, there were still a number of medals handed out.

It was a golden day for Mooloolaba, with the club taking out the open female surf ski relay and the open male surf board relay.

Kurrawa was a dominant force on the sand, winning the open male beach relay, while Lachlan Pascoe took out the 2km beach run, Ben Mispelhorn won the beach flags and Melissa Howard successfully retained her beach flags title.

Northcliffe also took out a number of events including the open female surf team and the open female surf race.

The action continues on the third and final day of the championships at Maroochydore Beach tomorrow.

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