Veteran Zane Holmes revelled in the elimination format and choppy conditions to win the third round of the national ironman series at Newcastle on Sunday.
In a day of drama that featured pre-event favourite Ky Hurst being sensationally disqualified after missing a turning buoy on the board leg of the first race, rising star Ali Day wrestled the series lead from Mooloolaba team-mate Kendrick Louis and Holmes proved a popular winner.
In the women’s final, seasoned Gold Coast campaigner Kristyl Smith claimed her first win in several years after defending ironwoman champion Courtney Hancock lost her series lead when a large wave smashed her on the ski leg in the opening race.
Hurst was not looking to blame anyone for his disqualification except himself, saying he did not pay enough attention during the pre-event briefing and as a result did not realise how many buoys he had to turn.
“It’s purely just a mistake, and it’s my mistake,” the seven-time Australian ironman champion said.
“I’m not going to sit there and argue with them (the officials).”
Holmes, a five-time ironman champion, has moved to third place on the standings heading into the fourth round at Perth next weekend.
Day finished second in the final and Gold Coast veteran Phil Clayton was third.
“This format just really suits me. It allows me to warm into it … to get better as I go,” Holmes said.
“To me it was more about proving to myself that I can still win.”
In the women’s event, Hancock fell victim to the messy, tricky conditions at Newcastle Beach after winning the opening two rounds at Surfers Paradise and Portsea.
Smith made the most of Hancock’s absence to claim the win and the series lead, with her Northcliffe clubmate Elizabeth Pluimers finishing second.
Alyce Bennett made it a Gold Coast trifecta by finishing third.
The podium in the women’s final was filled by seasoned campaigners, fulfilling the pre-race forecast that the conditions would suit the veterans.
“These conditions just suited the experienced and the older girls,” Smith said.
“Experience really showed through.”
Smith leads the series with 65 points followed by Pluimers (54) and Hancock (52).