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Coolum Beach became ‘Thundercat central’ over the weekend, with the nation’s fastest inflatable catamaran crews delivering two full days of spectacular competition in the annual ‘King Of Coolum’ title race.
Although forced out of one of Saturday’s early races due to engine trouble, four-time state champs Jay and Nathan Durston – racing for Getaway Resort – managed to bounce back, gaining enough points to take first place ahead of determined newcomers, Jesse and Levi Johnson.
“We’ve finally taken the title. We’ve been racing in the event since it started and always had mechanical hiccups or been beaten by better teams on the day, but luckily this year, we just scraped in with a win,” said Pilot Jay Durston.
“We had one breakdown on Saturday and ended up missing a race, so that put us back a bit on the points. But we managed to stay consistent for the rest of weekend and posted enough race wins to take the title.”
Although Saturday’s 4-5ft swell proved challenging for competitors, glassy conditions and smaller swell on Sunday made for quicker races.
“We usually prefer the choppier swell, but we just got away lucky with the smooth conditions. The thing with conditions is everyone’s got to deal with the same sort of track, so it still makes it interesting,” Jay said.
Novice competitors Jesse and Levi Johnson mounted a huge challenge across the weekend, finishing with a hard-fought second place on the overall point-score – just 20 points behind the Durston brothers and taking first place in the ‘modified class’.
The premier Thundercat event was not without incident, with two competitors injured during the first race of the weekend.
Pilot Andrew Pomas hit the first wave of the day hard and was transported to hospital for observation after severely jarring his neck, while Co-Pilot, Tye Wood, had to sit the weekend out due to a disclocated shoulder.
“This weekend was another big success. We drew a big crowd of spectators across the two days and all of the boats were relatively safe out in the water,” Brisbane Coast Thundercats President and new title-holder, Nathan Durston, said.
“The conditions were a challenge out there on the first day. There was a bit of a big swell and a big break on the sandbank. A couple of guys went over, flipped their boats on the first wave of the day. But Sunday was a bit cleaner and we had less incidents so it ended up being quicker – and that makes for good racing.
With a handful of new racing crews taking on the tough Coolum break for the first time this year, Nathan said they handled the conditions well.
“They all went well. They’re not far off the pace; it’s a learning curve. You always start at the bottom and work your way up, but they’ll be up the pointy end of the scoreboard before long and there will be a lot more competitors coming through the ranks soon. It’ll be great.
“King of Coolum is fantastic every year; we love it. We always have the help of Coolum Business and Tourism and our PR champion, Kim Anderson. The council gets on board and helps with the permits and we’ve always been welcomed by the Surf Club. Even the locals seem to love us – they’re always asking questions and we’ve never been without a crowd here at Coolum – it’s an unreal feeling.”

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