It’s been a long, cold winter and the Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold signals the start of the surf season.
This year’s race is going to be the most exciting in a very long time for both the men and the women with some of the deepest fields in over a decade.
The Gold is special in our sport because there is no hiding, you’ve either done the work or you haven’t -one wave can’t save you.
The list of winners on both sides is prestigious with only 9 men and 8 women claiming the crown over the 39years since it was first run; But what is even more iconic are the stories(possibly lies) around this race – from getaway scooters and a police chase; to a well-known competitor in the 90’s paddling the opening ski leg then getting a taxi back to the finish (top 20 result) to the GC ironman who decided to pull out of the race as he passed his home Surfclub, he didn’t tell his handlers and went to the bar in his race singlet – everyone has a Cooli Gold story.
RACE STATS – Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold.
1984 – this will be the 21st men’s race and the 17thrunning of the women’s event after it began in 2005.
Being the only sporting event in the world started because of a movie..
Producers needed B Roll (extra vision) for the 1984 movie about a great ironman race between the Lucas brothers and Grant Kenny; they decided to run an actual race, put $20k worth of gold on the line and when a young, blonde haired, blue eyed, greek god looking Guy Leech crossed the line first, the rest was history.
The toughest test in surf sports – 41.8km up and down the Gold Coast
LEG 1: SKI 23KM – COOLANGATTA TOTALLEBUDGERA CREEK & RETURN
LEG 2: RUN 1KM – COOLANGATTA TO TH&C SLSC & RETURN
LEG 3: SWIM 3.5KM – COOLANGATTA TO NORTH KIRRA SLSC & RETURN
LEG 4: BOARD 6.1KM – COOLANGATTA TO GIBSON STREET, BILINGA & RETURN
LEG 5: RUN 8.2KM – COOLANGATTA TO SEA STREET, TUGUN & RETURN COOLANGATTA
Ali Day – 8 wins
Caine Eckstein – 5 wins
Courtney Hancock – 4 wins
Liz Pluimers, Hayley Bateup & Alicia Marriot – 3 wins
A fairy-tale finish for Noosa’s Carla Papac, who managed to out grind two former champions in Courtney Hancock and Lana Rogers – the 3 women we’re side by side the entire race with the biggest gap at any transition just 5 seconds. The last kilometre was where the race was decided and the underdog reigned supreme.
In the men’s race, an injured Ali Day limped to his eighth win in what was his toughest and most inspiring victory; Matt Bevilacqua took 3mins off the winner in the run for his second minor placing in as many years by just seconds. While Joe Collins stormed home to become the 3rd kiwi male to ever finish on the podium in the event.
SHORT COURSE INDIVIDUAL & TEAMS
The Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold 2023 is offering the biggest total prizepool in the events history across several events over the weekend.
Once again the prize purse is heavily favoured for the winners of the Coolangatta Gold; with the split:
For the first time ever the Short Course Teams event has a huge prize purse on it also; Podium finishers in the womens, mens & mixed categories will receive:
There will also be prizemoney on the 15km Downwind Ski race on Saturday 14th Oct with competitors racing for:
(I am only going off fields I have seen, they may be wrongand to be honest, my picks might be as well)
What a field! 8x Champ Ali Day, 2019 Champ Matt Bevilacqua, World Champ Cory Taylor, Ironman Series Champ Kendrick Louis and Iron Series specials Finn Askew, Tom Scott and Wes Gould headline this cracker of a line up.
With Day and Bevilacqua, we know exactly what we’re going to get, 9 of the last 10 Golds were won by these two and they’re at the peak of their powers. They will go head-to-head in an absolute dogfight. I would normally put Taylor and Louis in the exact same sentence but there is one nagging thought I have with each.
Cory Taylor recently went to Texas to race the International Surf Rescue Challenge for NZ – so the disrupted prep raises a question for me, but he will be close to the mark.
For Louis it’s a lack of history in the race, this will be his 3rdattempt with a 4th (2016) and 11th(2019) to his name, as well as a short course win in 2013. That doesn’t mean he can’t win, but it’s the only way I can split these 4 generational talents.
Where the race will be won:
Every year Ali Day grinds the field down in the ski and breaks their will in the swim.
This race is won in the swim, if Bevilacqua and Taylor can survive the swim they will be a shot, Louis is easily good enough to be on the front heading into the board, but it will be a question of how much he has left in the tank.
My prediction: Ali vs Bevy for the win, Louis vs Taylor for 3rd.
Best of the rest: Askew, Casamento, Gould, Scott, Chapman in that order.
Outsider: Brayden Casamento of Alex Heads had the fastest board and run in the race last year for 8th. He will be much better on the front half of the race this year – my roughie.
Small field but super talented and great mix of experience and young gun talent.
For the first time in the history of the mens or womens race we have 4 former champions lining up. They are Carla Papac, Courtney Hancock, Georgia Miller & Lana Rogers (8 wins total) while Iron series sweethearts Lucy Derbyshire & Tiarnee Massie make their debut in the great race.
Tough one to pick with lots of questions that need answering:
Papac is the defending champion, can she repeat?
How will Hancock bounce back after last year?
Miller is the best ironwoman in the country but hasn’t fired in this race since she won in 2018.
Rogers looked like she was going to win 5 Gold’s before a DNF in 2021; will the change of clubs and last year’s redemption 3rd set her back on track?
AND how will the two rookies handle the pressure of the big occasion?
Where the race will be won:
Who has done the work? The women’s race traditionally, stays closer for longer with a lot more close and entertaining finishes than on the men’s side. It sounds boring but whoever is the most efficient over the first half will reap the rewards late in the day. The winner will find wash where they can, eat and drink, stay undercover and when they make a move, make it count – seems simple doesn’t it.
My prediction: Miller, Rogers, Court vs Massie for 3rd.
Best of the rest: Papac, Derbyshire and Pheobe Savage (in no order and could be on the podium.
Outsider: Tiarnee Massie – Had she not gone to Texas for the ISRC I would have put her as a lock on the podium. A lot of unknowns but could be very influential in this race.
There it is. My call for the Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold 2023 – good luck if you’re racing and have fun if you’re not.