Phil Clayton is excited about the next generation of Australian Ironmen, many of whom will hit the waves at Tugun this weekend chasing one of five places remaining in this year’s $400,000 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Series.
There will be 56 men and 38 women challenging for the final positions to join the sport’s elite in the six-round KNG Series, starting in Perth on December 23.
The weekend’s action kicks off with Round One heats and finals from 8am tomorrow (Saturday morning) with Round Two scheduled for tomorrow afternoon before the 16-man Round Three finals start at 9am on Sunday morning.
“I’m just excited with the talent I’ve seen on the starting sheets – there is an abundance of outstanding youngsters who bare putting their hands up and that’s exciting for the sport,” said Clayton, Kurrawa’s head coach, who has withdrawn from this year’s Series because of an ongoing Achilles problem.
“It was well documented that I wanted to race last year so my young bloke could see his dad race and that gave me a huge thrill but my Achilles problems have kept me out of this year’s races.
“But I am just as excited about being on the beach and seeing what I believe will be some fantastic racing with every final counting towards making the Series.
“I’ve had a close look at the men’s field and guys like Mitch Miller, James Stewart, Hayden White, young Jackson Maynard and Tanyn Lyndon are going to be among the front runners.
“Throw in Wade Krieger, Ryan Lysaught, Sam Fuller and then there’s my Kurrawa Kiwis Mike Janes, Oliver Puddick and Chris Moors.
“There are sure to be a host of others snapping at their heels – I can’t wait.”
Meanwhile Northcliffe’s Australian coach Barry Newman ran his eyes over the women’s fields before heading to Japan yesterday with the Australian Under 21 team for the Sanyo Bussan Cup.
The women’s field will see established duo Hayley Bateup (Mermaid Beach) and Alyce Bennett (North Burleigh) up against the likes of Mooloolaba’s Teisha Jenkins and Amy Nurthen, Maroubra’s Tara Coleman and Newman’s Northcliffe contingent, including Casey Leo-Litzow, Madison Boon and Katie Graham.
“The 400m runs will be crucial in all the races but there is no doubt the girls are going to have to get off the beach and make the most of their opportunities,” said Newman.
“I think the fact that the points will carry through from the first two rounds will be a much fairer way of determining those who qualify particularly with the ski first in Sunday’s final.
“If you encounter a problem early it doesn’t necessarily mean your race is over.
“Bateup and Bennett will set the pace and it will be imperative for the younger ones to keep the pressure on right from the start.”
RACE SCHEDULE/POINTSCORING:All three races will be over the M Shaped courses with race one at 8am on Saturday; race two scheduled for Saturday afternoon and race three for 9am Sunday morning.
Points accumulated for round one and two will determine thefinalists for Sunday morning, with points carried through to the final.
The top five on accumulated points across all three rounds will determine those who will join the pre-qualifiers from last year’s Series and this year’s inclusions.