Surf lifesaver Maddy Dunn is now leading the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series.
Surf lifesaver Maddy Dunn is now leading the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series.

Maddy Dunn, Cory Taylor fire in Paradise

MADDY Dunn has become the first multiple winner in the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series on a beach which hosted her worst ever performance just a season ago.

Dunn, winner of the opening round of the 2018/19 series in October, made the most of the absence of in-form training mate Georgia Miller to take round five honours and the series lead at Surfers Paradise on Saturday.

The 24-year-old surf lifesaver will now go into the finale at Wanda later this month in pole position to take out her first professional ironwoman crown.

With Miller attending her sister's wedding in the Southern Highlands, Dunn said she felt enormous pressure to perform.

"It was a big opportunity with Georgia away at the wedding and it did add pressure knowing this was my big chance," Dunn said.

"It's a big relief to have done it. It's probably the best win I have ever had in my career. Last year I didn't even finish this race."

Maddy Dunn racing to victory. Pic: Shane Myers
Maddy Dunn racing to victory. Pic: Shane Myers

Dunn overtook Tiarn Raymond in the final board leg on Saturday to claim the fifth-round honours with Brielle Cooper finishing third in the ski, swim board race.

Lizzie Welborn, on the comeback from glandular fever was fourth, with former multiple ironwoman series winner Courtney Hancock fifth.

"I had to try and stay mellow and calm but there were a few nerves," Dunn admitted.

Dunn, who has been contesting the ironwoman series since 2011, has never finished higher than fourth overall previously. But after her victory on Saturday, she will head into the Wanda finale on the top of the women's pointscore.

Kirsty Higgison, who finished 11th on Saturday just a week after taking off a moon boot, is second overall followed by Cooper, Lana Rogers, Miller and Hancock. Athletes are able to drop their worst performance in the series after the finale.

Cory Taylor proved he can compete with the best. (Shane Myers/Ocean6)
Cory Taylor proved he can compete with the best. (Shane Myers/Ocean6)

In teh men's event Taylor achieved something very few surf ironman can boast - beating multiple champions Shannon Eckstein and Matt Poole in a major race.

Taylor, who trains with Eckstein on the Gold Coast, outsprinted the multiple series champion and former winner Poole for one of the biggest victories of his career in testing conditions on Saturday.

"I've never even podiumed in a race in the series before," said the 25-year-old who finished second to Australian Kendrick Louis in the ironman at the world surf lifesaving championships late last year.

"I train beside Shannon and he's great, someone I have always looked up to, so to do this today is very special."

 

Matt Poole finished second and multiple champion Eckstein third, Ben Carberry finished fourth with Matt Bevilacqua fifth.

Eckstein is making a late series comeback from a leg injury which sidelined him at the start of the year.

Taylor started four seconds behind Eckstein in the ironman pursuit format where athletes went into the finale ranked off results in an earlier race.

Ironwoman Lizzie Welborn returned to racing after illness.
Ironwoman Lizzie Welborn returned to racing after illness.

Series leader Ali Day started 22 seconds behind after a poor result in race one and ended up finishing seventh. As a consequence Day missed the opportunity to sew the ironman title up with a round in hand after being the most consistent performer in the opening four rounds of the series.

However Day still leads the pointscore overall ahead of the finale of the Nutri-Grain series which will be raced at Wanda Brach on February 23.

Day leads overall from Poole with Taylor's result lifting him to third place overall ahead of Louis, Carberry and Matt Bevilacqua.