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A committed contingent of surf lifesavers from across the state made the trek to Queensland’s iconic Coolangatta Beach last weekend to take on one of the greatest challenges in surf sports.

The 2018 Coolangatta Gold, or the “Cooly”, is a gruelling event made up of three courses that interchange an ocean swim, board paddle, surf ski and soft sand run.

It incorporates a long course (41.8km), short course (21km) and youth challenge (2km), while a number of divisions were contested including elite male and female, under 19s through over 50s as well as mixed teams and the ‘Mates Wave.’

To finish is a badge of honour with plenty of hard work required in the months leading into the event.

Although they no longer call NSW home after shifting to the sunny sands of Queensland, the two long course open winners are certainly familiar names in their native state.

Georgia Miller (Northcliffe) claimed her maiden title. The former Newport star powered home with the time of 4 hours, 29 minutes to win by a margin of nearly ten minutes.

In the men’s race the former Warilla-Barrack Point member Ali Day made history after storming home to his sixth overall title in an impressive time of 4 hours, 1 minute. Day was joined on the podium by Mitch Allum (Wanda SLSC) who finished in third place.

NSW returned home with plenty to celebrate. Terrigal’s Zak Van Dartel finished second in the Open Male Short Course event while Charlie Verco (North Bondi) and Zac Morris (Newport) performed strongly in the U19s.

It was an emotional win in the Open Female race for Emily Doyle (Newport), who took home the gold just eight weeks after breaking her foot. The 17-year-old continued to train through her injury with the Newport Kinghorn team, moon-boot and all, determined to maintain her fitness to give her the confidence not to withdraw. 

In the U19 Division, the Wanda duo of Keira Warn and Emily Eaves finished second and third respectively, while in the 35-49 age group Regina Jensen (Red Head SLSC) took home gold.

The Coolangatta Gold is not only known for its individual and elite divisions, but also the teams divisions where NSW athletes consistently excel. In the Male Open Team, Shaw and Partners NSW (combined) held of the Shaw and Partners Queensland team by a slim three minutes.

The Wauchope Bonny Hills – Expressway Spares (Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC) enjoyed ultimate success in the Male 140 Years Masters Division, while it was a clean-sweep for the NSW men in the 190+ as Terrigal, North Narrabeen and Avoca Beach took home the honours.

North Bondi took out the Female Open team event and finished second in the U19s.

Additionally this year, a State of Origin style short-course Ironman format was staged on Saturday to raise funds for injured Newcastle surf lifesaver Jess Collins. In May, Jess suffered a tragic accident while surfing that left her paralysed and her friends in surf are determined to help her out where they can.

Kendrick Louis, Mackenzie Hynard, Matt Poole and Hayden White were in action for NSW while Caine and Shannon Eckstein, Cory Hill and Luke Cuff pulled on the Queensland cap.

“It is a big commitment to train for and compete in the Coolangatta Gold and I would like to congratulate all of our NSW competitors for their efforts last weekend,” said NSW Surf Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon.

Short Course Results, and full results are available from Surf Life Saving Australia