Kiama's Ali Day wins record sixth Coolangatta Gold

Celebration: Ali Day wins last year's Coolangatta Golf. Picture:  AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Celebration: Ali Day wins last year's Coolangatta Golf. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

HE JUST makes it look all so easy.

Slowing to a walk to high five the fans and nippers cheering him on.

A hug, lifting girlfriend Kel King around his waist, sealing a record sixth Coolangatta Gold with a kiss.

If the Kiama athlete was yet to join the all-time greats of surf lifesaving, he most certainly did on Sunday.

Day fought difficult, blowy conditions on the Queensland south coast, moving past Caine Eckstein on the list of Coolangatta Gold winners. He stopped the clock in four hours, one minutes and two seconds, but he was in cruise control over the final stages.

“It wasn’t easy today, it was definitely one of the harder races, I’ve ever done,” he said. “Every year throws up its challenges.

“I had to go out on my own on the ski from about Currumbin onwards, it’s pretty daunting.”

Showing how tough the race was, one of Day’s biggest rivals, TJ Hendy, emerged off the ski in second place alongside Mitchell Trim, but withdrew during the swim.

Day had missed the 2014 because of health issues involving exhaustion and a liver problem, but recovered to win the ironman crown in Newcastle the following year.

In his absence, Thirroul’s Josh Minogue claimed the crown.

Day paid tribute to Illawarra surf lifesaving great Dean Mercer – who died suddenly just weeks before last year’s race – when he pointed to the heavens, as he crossed the line to win.

And he has every intention of maintaining his stranglehold for years to come.

“Yeah for sure, all being well, if I'm not injured or sick,” Day said. “I love this day and I love this race. I’ll keep turning up for as long as I can.”

Day admitted he was once awestruck by the likes of Eckstein.

“I just idolised the people who’ve won it before, particularly someone like Caine Eckstein who’s won five of them. It’s not about getting six or the accolades that come with it, I just really want to execute the race plan.”

COOLANGATTA GOLD

Honour roll (past decade)

2018: Ali Day

2017: Ali Day

2016: Ali Day

2015: Ali Day

2014: Josh Minogue

2013: Ali Day

2012: Ali Day

2011: Caine Eckstein

2010: Caine Eckstein

2009: Caine Eckstein

2008: Caine Eckstein

2008: Caine Eckstein (also won in 2005).

Breakthrough: Josh Minogue wins the Coolangatta Gold in 2014.

Breakthrough: Josh Minogue wins the Coolangatta Gold in 2014.

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