Surf Studio: Don Marsh – Coolangatta Gold
On the latest Coolangatta Gold episode special of Surf Studio, we head to Tasmania to chat to veteran Coolangatta Gold competitor Don Marsh from Carlton Park SLSC who has made the pilgrimage to compete in the iconic event almost every year since 2008 and will this year be competing in the Virtual Coolangatta Gold.
With over 50 years of active patrol service under his belt and widely regarded as one of SLS Tasmania’s great surf lifesaving competitors, surf sports has always played a significant role in Don’s life.
Currently serving as the Tasmanian Surf Sports Advisor, Don has served on a number of state and national committees and advisory groups over the years. In 2005, he sat on the SLSA Surf Sports board and helped bring the iconic Coolangatta Gold event back on the calendar.
“I think one of the greatest successes has been reintroducing the Coolangatta Gold,” said Don.
“We were looking at ways at really developing surf sports in many ways, not just the ironman racing, ski racing, ocean swims and the like.
“It is an iconic event. The venues have changed over the years and I think I’ve done most of them. The Surfers to Coolangatta and back again, that was pretty iconic.”
Since his debut in 2008, Don has competed in almost every Coolangatta Gold, having missed only one when he was overseas.
“It was a goal I set myself when I retired from paid work and I always wanted to do it and I never had the opportunity in terms of my workload so I set that as a goal when I retired,” he said.
“And I’ve continued to do it. I just think it’s a great event and I think for more mature athletes, it’s something they can do.
“You don’t get pounded by the surf like you do in the short course racing, you’ve got the opportunity to get off the beach pretty cleanly and work your way through the event.
“I just think it is so important, it brings people at the beginning of summer to the Gold Coast. It gives a purpose for those particularly in the southern states.”
While preparing for the race, Tasmanian competitors like Don, must overcome the challenge of training through chilly, winter conditions.
“It’s not as tough as what you think it is, because you paddle ski all year round, you’re on top of the water, you’ve got the right sort of clothing,” Don said.
“It’s a little bit harder on board, you’ve got to wet suit up and sometimes wear gloves, maybe a beanie.
“Surprisingly, we have 50-metre indoor pools which are heated, so we can do the swim in them. Swimming in the ocean at this time of year is pretty tough, even though in this COVID period many of the ocean swimmers have swum all winter long.
“We’ve had quite a history from Tasmania, so even though you say we might suffer down here over the winter, we make good.”
To hear more from Don about his experiences completing the Coolangatta Gold almost every year since 2008, make sure to tune into episode thirteen of Surf Studio on the SLSA website and SLSA Facebook page.