Kiama's Ali Day joined an exclusive club on Sunday, becoming just the third man to win multiple Coolangatta Gold surf lifesaving races.
Day, who now lives and trains at Mooloolaba, streaked to victory in the 41.5km endurance classic, winning by six minutes and 33seconds over Cronulla veteran Nathan Smith.
Thirroul’s Josh Minogue was third.
A successful defence of his 2012 open men’s crown means the 23-year-old joins five-time winner Caine Eckstein and two-time champion Guy Leech as the only multiple winners of the iconic event.
The open women’s race, contested for the first time over the full long-course distance, was a moment of redemption for five-time podium finisher Liz Pluivers.
The North Burleigh-based 26-year-old led at every transition and claimed a comfortable 7:28 margin of victory over defending champion Brodie Moir.
Day, who only entered the race last week after being given the all-clear following a stress fracture in his left foot, said defending his crown had been sweeter than last year’s win in his debut Gold appearance.
‘‘I looked at the trophy the other day, to give it back was a pretty hard feeling,’’ he said.
‘‘To be on the trophy again, with guys like Caine Eckstein, Michael King – my coach, Darren Mercer, Guy Leech...there’s only three guys now who have won this race twice.
‘‘That’s a very special thing for me.’’
Pluivers’ win ended years of hurt after a dramatic on-course collapse in 2009 and being overrun in a sprint to the line by Courtney Hancock in 2011 - but there was to be no hard luck story this year.
Hancock faded in the final run leg to finish third with Pluivers easing home to claim the $25,000 winner’s cheque.
She said a nine-month sabbatical away from the sport last summer, including a six-month trip overseas with her fiance, had reignited her passion for surf lifesaving.
‘‘I’ve been trying so hard to find the top of that podium,’’ she said.
‘‘Before I went away I was really mentally struggling...just finding that love. It was a real chore to go training. I think that break really helped me. While I was away I thought I really want to get back into this.’’ AAP