Tom Rowles, 19, from Tugun in the semi-final of the Ski paddle at the South Pacific Championships at Kirra Beach on the weekend.
Tom Rowles, 19, from Tugun in the semi-final of the Ski paddle at the South Pacific Championships at Kirra Beach on the weekend. Blainey Woodham

Eckstein has eyes on Ironman title

LIFESAVING: Shannon Eckstein has made his intentions clear for the upcoming Nutri Grain Ironman Series by claiming a South Pacific Championships title on the weekend at Kirra Beach.

Eckstein’s Northcliffe team-mate, Kristyl Smith joined him on the winner’s dais, claiming her third ironwoman title in-a-row.

The open iron events were staged in tricky conditions at Kirra Beach on Sunday.

Strong northerly winds and choppy seas plagued many of the athletes but it didn’t stop two-time Australian champion Shannon from clinching his first South Pacific’s title ahead of Tugun’s Hugh Doherty and Mooloolaba’s Matt Poole.

“This was my first race since June, so I was really pleased with how well I performed especially coming into the Nutri-Grain series,” he said. “The tricky conditions made the race a good test and I’m now focused on a repeat performance at Kurrawa on January 16.”

Fellow teammate and Nutri-Grain contender, Kristyl Smith cemented her dominance this season winning her third ironwoman title in a row. Smith edged out Bonnie Hancock (Northcliffe) in the final sprint with Hayley Bateup (Kurrawa) crossing the line in third position.

“I was lucky to take the early lead and build on that throughout the race,” she said.

“The competition was fierce with all the girls going hard, it felt like it could have been a final at the Australian Championships.

“I’m at the same point now that I was last season, I came out strong and finished strong, but this time I want to ensure my performance remains consistent.”

Her performances are sure to put pressure on last year’s Nutri Grain Ironwoman champion Naomi Flood. The sand at Kirra also scorched on Sunday in round three of the Fastest Man on Sand series with Melissa Howard (Kurrawa) once again dominating the female Open flags race.

Currumbin’s Mitchell Swain took out the men’s Open beach sprint, while Kurrawa’s Benjamin Mispelhorn was pipped at the post in both the Open sprint and flags race.

The Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman Series kicks off on January 16.

Hundreds of competitors, from junior to master age-level descended on Kirra Beach for the South Pacific Championships, which featured more than 100 events.



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