The Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold has a historic presence in the Australian sporting landscape, and has cemented its position as the most challenging race in surf sports. What began as the central theme for a motion picture over 30 years ago has now commanded a place on Australia’s annual sports calendar, and the tradition will continue from October 7-8.
As the ultimate endurance challenge, athletes build up to competing in the 42km long course over months of gruelling training, allowing surf sport’s most elite long-distance athletes to battle it out for Coolangatta Gold Glory.
Last year Surfers Paradise Ironman star Ali Day crossed the line in the 41.8km long course more than five minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Kurrawa’s Matt Bevilacqaua. Northcliffe’s Courtney Hancock won her second title ahead of North Burleigh’s Allie Britton and former Commonwealth Games swim star Rebecca Creedy (Kurrawa).
A new-look 21km short course will replace what was a 32.4km race in 2016, taken out in the elite female category by Nadi Canning of Cudgen Headland, with North Burleigh’s Nick Pluimers battling hard to win the elite male.
In recent years, the Coolangatta Gold team event has provided the opportunity to both current Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) members, and the public, to compete in the short or long course with a group of friends who may not have the time or skill necessary to train across four disciplines.
With open categories for males and females, it allows anyone above 14 to compete in the beach run legs, 15 years and over for the swim or board legs, and 16 years and over for the ski leg. The masters over 35 categories breaks the gap between elite athletes and those in the twilight of their athletic career hoping to give it their best shot.
James Purcell of the Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club first entered the Coolangatta Gold with his teammates two years ago, and after a masters over 35 male victory in 2016, he said they haven’t looked back.
“For us as a team it was just something new,” he said.
“We have time constraints with work, family, and business obligations, so we don’t have the time to train up for all four disciplines.
Purcell said competing with his teammates motivated him through the offseason, and made for an enjoyable weekend on the Gold Coast.
“When the weather was bad and the surf was rough and bumpy, there was a motivating factor there knowing I wasn’t just going out there for myself, but I was going out to train for the team,” he said.
“Some of our wives came up, so we made a real weekend of it. It was a fun weekend and a wonderful experience, and we are hoping to come back again this year with a couple more Terrigal teams than last time.
Entries for the Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold are now open at sls.com.au/coates-hire-coolangatta-gold.