After helping his sister to three Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold titles, it was Nick Pluimers’ turn to celebrate as he took out the elite men’s short course crown on the sands of Coolangatta on Saturday.
With Liz Pluimers now enjoying retirement, the siblings swapped roles to give 28-year-old Nick his day in the sun.
This time it was Liz working as the handler for her younger brother in the 32.4km race, encouraging him around the course to a three-minute victory over Ben Cochrane (Northcliffe) and Bobby Byrne (Carlton Park, TAS).
Pluimers’ winning time was three hours 19 minutes and 35.4 seconds.
“I just thought I would give it a go to show her (Liz) how hard handling is,” the happy winner said.
“It is definitely great to have a win and keep the family name up there.
“It’s very special having her there, giving me advice and she keeps me calm and takes away the nerves.”
Pluimers and Cochrane raced stroke for stroke and step for step through much of the race before Pluimers took charge on the 7.1km run from Currumbin to the Coolangatta finish line.
After a quick paddle from Coolangatta to Miami in the opening 14.6km ski leg, it was tougher going as they turned into the wind to head south.
Cochrane led narrowly after the 2.5km swim at Burleigh but Pluimers was confident of his chances in the board and run legs.
“Board is my strongest leg and I knew that if I could come out of the swim with Ben or just behind him then I could paddle away,” he said.
“That was definitely my plan in the race.
“I am usually a pretty good runner but coming home in the run today my legs were stinging.”
Pluimers declared the win the highlight of his surf lifesaving career.
“It’s my first individual event win, it’s very special,” he said.
“I finished fourth last year so it certainly feels a whole lot better to cross the line in first place this year that’s for sure.
“I did the Cairns Ironman in June so I thought while I was fit I may as well keep training through and I may as well keep it going.”
New Zealander Cochrane and Tasmanian Byrne are both 20-year-olds on the rise and declared themselves happy with their results.
In the elite women’s race, Gold Coast general practitioner Nadi Canning (Cudgen Headand) had the right prescription for success as she powered away for a big win ahead of Phoebe Savage (Newport) and Sally Watson (Alexandra Headland).
From the start, Canning was opening a gap on her rivals, benefitting from training alongside male competitors at Kingscliff on the New South Wales North Coast.
By the end of the ski leg she had a commanding lead, which allowed the 30-year-old, who mixes training with her medical career, to protect a damaged calf muscle on the way home.
“I’ve been doing a lot of long paddles and long runs so I knew I could do the distance,” Canning said.
“I tore my calf about 10 or 11 weeks ago. I actually didn’t run for about five weeks or so, the physio worked so hard on me to try and get me back running as soon as possible.
“I had to be really, really careful because it kept tweaking, hence why they are strapped, so I had to just get out there and hold on.”
Canning recorded a time of 3:33.15.
Noosa Heads’ Grace Kaihau marked herself as an endurance talent to watch as she took out the under-19 women’s race in a time nearly three minutes quicker than the elite racers after a thrilling battle with Abigail Pugh (Kurrawa). Brielle Cooper (North Burleigh) was third.
Kaihau and Pugh were close throughout much of the race but the 16-year-old from the Sunshine Coast was able to open winning lead in the final run leg.
The under-19 men’s race was taken out by Campbell Guthrie (Alexandra Headland), ahead of Grant Harris (North Burleigh) and Bailey Williams (Noosa Heads).
Guthrie’s winning time of 3:16.11 was the fastest of the day in near-perfect race conditions.
The Coolangatta Gold action switches to the 41.8km long course on Sunday, with Ali Day (Surfers Paradise) up against a tough field as he chases his fourth title.
The likes of Matt Bevilacqua (Kurrawa), Kendrick Louis (Manly) and Hayden White (Currumbin) won’t make things easy for Day.
Reigning Australian ironwoman champion Rebecca Creedy and former Coolangatta Gold winner Courtney Hancock look like the strongest competitors in the women’s field.