Jemma Smith and Tom Norton both say their victories at the Forster Ocean Classic are the biggest of their ocean ski careers.
NORTON AND SMITH CLAIM BREAKTHROUGH WINS AT FORSTER OCEAN CLASSIC
Tom Norton and Jemma Smith have both claimed the biggest wins of their surfski careers, winning the inaugural Voost Shaw and Partners Forster Ocean Classic.
It was another tight tussle across the 20 kilometre course, with powerful offshore winds creating race conditions that are being described as the most grueling seen in years.
Norton prevailed over two-time ICF World Champion Cory Hill in another neck-and-neck battle, while Michael Booth ensured it was the same podium as yesterday’s lead-in race.
Mackenzie Hynard posted another fourth-place finish, with Greg Tobin in fifth.
“I feel like I’ve been hanging in there for ages so to win the biggest race of my career, I’m super stoked.” Norton says.
“From the start, [Cory and I] had eyes for each other… we just met up.
“Cory lead for the first 10 kilometres and I was planning to make a move at that time and see what he had.
“It worked and I put 30 metres into him, but [the final eight kilometres] into the headwind, he got closer and closer and closer.
“I definitely never had it won… he made me earn it.
“He’s got so many things going on, with a newborn… maybe I picked it at the right time but I’ll certainly take it.
“To finally be on top feels so good.”
It was a breakthrough result for Smith, too.
The surf ironwoman used her disappointment with a fourth-place finish in yesterday’s hit-out to turn the tables on World Champion Danielle McKenzie and Georgia Laird.
Jordan Mercer was fourth while Montannah Murray rounded out the top five.
“It feels amazing,” she says. “I really wanted to come up here and have a good paddle today given I didn’t put it together like I wanted to yesterday.
“I knew I had to back myself and back my ability and just go for it.
“It was super tough racing with all four of us girls together at 10 kilometres.
“When we hit the rocks there was some bump rebounding, and although we had the wind in our face, I managed to link a few together and get away a little bit.
“I just tried to keep my head down and keep going to the finish!”
It’s another spectacular result for Smith, after claiming her maiden Open Women’s ski title at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships last month.
Next week she’ll compete at the National Sprint Kayaking Championships, arguably in the best form of her career.
“I’ve sort of been right up there at the top end of the field for a while now but haven’t had that breakthrough win.
“It’s great to be able to build that motivation for the rest of the series.
“Some of the girls have been so dominant over the past few years… the rest of the series has some really nice, tight competition, I’m sure.”