FORMER Yamba athlete Hugh Dougherty sits in 11th overall after the opening round of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series on Sunday.
Western Australia's Scarborough Beach played host to the round, with strong winds and choppy seas making for difficult conditions.
Dougherty said the fast water made things tough as he embarked on his final campaign.
"The water was moving pretty quick, but it made it particularly tough," Dougherty said.
"The strong winds made it even more tricky to get through."
The skis, boards and swimmers might be put away for good at the end of this season with the news it could be his final series.
After 10 years in the biggest surf lifesaving competition in Australia, Dougherty said he was simply too busy to continue competing at the elite level.
"I've been in the game for a while now, but I'm thinking that this year might be my last," Dougherty said.
"With full time work and coaching at Tugun it's becoming harder to fit all the training in.
"I'm just at the point where I might not be enjoying it as much as I used to."
Dougherty started the day with a good performance in the board leg, where he finished fourth behind Matt Poole, Shannon Eckstein and Wes Berg.
"It's my strongest leg so I was pretty happy to be up there," Dougherty said.
"I managed to stay with the leaders for most of it, but they came through on the way in and got me."
Admittedly his weakest leg, Dougherty struggled in the ocean swim.
A poor start saw him lose ground early, which he didn't recover to finish well back in the field.
"I felt okay heading into the second leg, but I just didn't swim well enough," Dougherty said.
"I probably haven't done enough work on my swimming, but I'll work on that for the next race."
Dougherty bounced back to form in the ski leg, putting in a good performance to finish fourth. The weak swim leg reared its head again in the ironman race, where he finished back in the field.
"The ski race wasn't too bad and I came in around fourth," Dougherty said.
"I was happy with that race, but the swim and ironman events let me down."
His focus will shift to preparing for round two in Newcastle on January 12.
"Overall, I wasn't too happy with the way things went, but I've got a bit of time to work on improving the results," Dougherty said.