Kiwi Ben’s three-year mission for Gold as Kirstie lands a Vikings victory
Inspired by messages from four-time Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold long course champion Ali Day and other clubmates, New Zealander Ben Cochrane powered his way to victory in the open men’s short course race at Coolangatta today.
In his first season competing for Surfers Paradise, Cochrane raced to victory ahead of Kyle Garrett (Avoca Beach) and Matthew Bell (Newport), while WA’s Currumbin-based Kirstie Hardstaff was a comfortable winner of open women’s race ahead of Carla Papac (Cronulla).
Hardstaff’s little sister Jayde Hardstaff, also with Gold Coast powerhouse, the Currumbin Vikings, finished third.
Cochrane’s phone was buzzing in the lead-up to today’s start as his training partners sent messages designed to inspire the 21-year-old New Zealander.
“I got texts from five or six of the Surfers Paradise boys, saying ‘best of luck’, ‘you’ve trained hard’, ‘just go out and enjoy it’,” he said.
“Even Ali was saying ‘I’m proud of the person you are and what you stand for’.
“It captures that the sport is more than just the sport, it’s a way for family and friends to gather. To test out your skills against other people and have fun.
“That was one of the most enjoyable races I’ve had and I’m just trying to enjoy the process.
Racing over the revamped Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold short course that centred on Coolangatta beach, Cochrane and Garrett were stroke for stroke in the opening ski leg, before the Kiwi made his move in the swim, edged further ahead on the board and in the run to the finish.
The race today took him two hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds, but it was a win three years in the making for Cochrane who left New Zealand as soon as he finished high school and moved to the Gold Coast where he met day and came under the influence of Ironman legend Trevor Hendy.
“I’ve had some two-hour sit downs with Trev where you unfold what you want to do with your life. There are people out there who don’t believe in that but I’ve seen the change in myself.
“I’ve also done a lot with Keith Maitland, a kinesiologist, getting the body right, and I went vegetarian about three months ago, gave up coffee and things like that.
“I’ve been really focusing on the mind, it’s like a holistic approach, whereas it used to be just train, train, train.
“I’m loving life and when you’re loving life the race doesn’t matter as much and as a result you race care free, feel the weightlessness when you race and it’s just fun.”
Cochrane is a big fan of the new course for the shorter of the Coolangatta Gold events, with each leg being raced in a loop and the transitions taking place on the same beach.
“With this format, having more people on the start line this year and the grandstands there’s far more atmosphere,” he said.
The Hardstaff sisters moved even further than Cochrane to train on the Gold Coast, giving up their lives in Perth to work with coach and former Coolangatta Gold winner Michael King and his team at the Vikings.
They were locked in a battle with Papac for much of the race before Kirstie moved ahead in the board leg and held the lead through the run to the finish and complete the course in 2:38:48.
“As soon as I got into the board leg I thought had the energy and kept going and got a good lead,” she said.
“In the run I knew I had it pretty well with my sister, because ‘she can’t run,’ but I wasn’t sure about the other girl and I was just hanging on until the end.”
She paid tribute to the influence of King and working alongside his strong team of surf sports athletes.
“I have improved with Michael King so much, and having the Currumbin crew with me and the Nurthen girls (Amy and Karlee) is incredible,” she said.
“Coming over from Perth and not knowing anyone I was pretty nervous but they have made me welcome at Currumbin, like a big family, and I’m loving it.”
The 23-year-old will now target the upcoming Ocean 6 series that will run throughout the summer.
“Kingy wanted us to have a goal before the Ocean 6 and was thinking the Coolangatta Gold is the perfect opportunity to do this as a background and go into the Series feeling strong,” she said.