SPILLS: The Coolum Beach Bowls Club boat crew of Adrian and Jacob Gaby.
SPILLS: The Coolum Beach Bowls Club boat crew of Adrian and Jacob Gaby. Kim Anderson

Thundercats thrill at Coolum

THUNDERCATS: Coolum Beach was temporarily renamed “Thunder Stadium” over the weekend as 10 of Australia’s best Thundercat crews converged on the Coast to deliver two full days of spectacular competition in the annual “King of Coolum” title race.

After leading the points race for most of day one, current state champs Jay and Nathan Durston were forced out early due to injury, leaving a premier title win within reach of 2013 and 2014 winners Nick Routledge and Tony Aitkenhead (racing for Coolum Surf Club).

The experienced pilot and co-pilot fought off several serious challenges and worsening conditions throughout Sunday to take back the coveted title, posting a marginal points win over runners-up Shane Hopson and Joey Lijewski – racing for North Shore Realty.

“It feels great to get the title back. We were hoping to have a win this weekend and after two very challenging days of different conditions, we were very grateful to stay upright and stay in the lead,” said winning co-pilot, Tony Aitkenhead.

“It’s a shame that the Durston brothers had to pull out after Nathan hurt himself on Saturday. We actually missed their competitive racing because it would have been much more challenging to come up with a first place if we had to continue racing against them.

“But we did fight off some big challenges from the crews in the North Shore Realty and Coolum Beach Hotel boats. It was good, fun racing all round; King of Coolum is always a great event,” he added.

With 15-20 knot south-easterly winds and a clean 1.5 metre swell on Saturday turning into 25 knot south-easterlies and choppy conditions on Sunday, the weekend was not without incident. Several boats were forced to sit out races and dry their engines out after turning over, while one competitor was taken to hospital suffering a suspected fracture to his ribs.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got some of the same teams heading up the leaderboard but the new guys went all right out there in very testing conditions,” explained race director and Brisbane Coast Thundercats chairman, John Kerrisk.

“King of Coolum has always been a hugely successful event because the crews love the challenge and unpredictability of the Coolum surf and we get some fantastic support from not only the public, but the Surf Club and Coolum Business and Tourism as well.

Coolum Surf Lifesaving Club president Fred Stokes agreed, saying Coolum turned on some great conditions over the weekend, with good swell on Sunday making for exciting racing.

“It’s great to see so many spectators lining the beach and cheering at these events; it helps the competitors put on a good show and they really do race hard,” he said.

“We love supporting the Thundercats when they come up here; they are a well behaved bunch and they’re a pleasure to have. We’ll welcome them back any time – events like this go a long way towards supporting local businesses and to have the Coolum Surf Club-sponsored crew win the title back is just a great bonus. ”

Standings: 1st - Coolum Beach Surf Club – pilot Nick Routledge & co-pilot Tony Aitkenhead, 2nd - North Shore Realty – pilot Shane Hopson & co-pilot Joey Lijewski, 3rd - Coolum Beach Hotel – pilot Charles Riley & co-pilot James Riley, 4th - Sekisui House – pilot Andrew Pomas & co-pilot Ryan Ski, 5th - Bottomline Control – pilot Trent Cook / co-pilot Rob van der Westhuizen, 6th - Coolum Beach Bowls Club – pilot Adrian Gaby & co-pilot Jacob Gaby, 7th - Element On Coolum Beach – pilot Emilio Finizio & co-pilot Matthew Chan, 8th - Coolum Business & Tourism – pilot Ricky Blazely & co-pilot Joseph Cotton, 9th - Coolum Beach Getaway Resort – pilot Jay Durston & co-pilot Nathan Durston, 10th - Bell Potter – pilot Kevin Timms and co-pilot Dessy Melloy.

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