The Gold Coast Tritons have mastered big swells to take home the silver medal in their debut appearance in the Major League Triathlon Mixed Relay in Atlantic City.
In extremely testing conditions the Tritons finished behind the Carolina Gliders with the San Diego Stingrays third in the nine team event.
Gold Coast based Jazz Hedgeland led off for the Tritons with a solid start as high winds whipped up the swell that made it a very tough 300m swim.
Hedgeland handed off to Rio Olympian Ryan Fisher, a former junior surf champion on the Gold Coast, who handled the conditions smartly to bring the Tritons into second place as he tagged noted surf swimmer Emma Jeffcoat.
The former champion surf lifesaver from the Sydney Northern Beaches thrived in the churning swim conditions to take the lead, which she extended over the bike and run from the Gliders.
As the final change came so to the pelting rain that Tritons anchor Brandon Copeland had to handle.
The Gold Coaster also showed his ocean water skills, negotiating the choppy conditions to exit with a good lead onto the bike.
Despite the 21-year-old’s bike handling skills the rain-soaked slippery boardwalk proved to be very tricky and saw Copeland come down twice on the 180 degree turns, dropping his chain.
He was quick to regain his composure but it was enough for the Gliders Tommy Zaferes to take the lead - the gap proving too much for Copeland to make up over the 1.6km run leg.
Copeland described the storm as “super wild” and he had to remain alert with good sighting in the water for the turning buoys.
“The team did an awesome job to give us a solid lead starting my final leg but, in an effort, to drop the competition I over cooked a corner and came unstuck on the slippery boardwalk,” Copeland said.
“I was then determined to make up for that error and managed to crash again.
“ I can’t thank and congratulate the rest of the Gold Coast Tritons enough for putting me in the position to challenge for the win.
“I learnt a good lesson in controlled aggression on the bike and will be better for the opportunity.
“A massive thank you to both the Gold Coast City Council and Triathlon Australia for this amazing opportunity and looking forward to another chance to represent the Gold Coast and Australia in Vale in two weeks time.”
Jeffcoat, who is enjoying a successful season on the WTS circuit said: “Our Gold Coast Tritons team raced hard here in some very testing conditions for round one of the MLT series.
“I was excited to have an opportunity to chase as the third leg of our relay team, using the rough ocean swim conditions, windy ride and tough soft sand run to my advantage to get ahead and pull away a lead for the team. True tough racing, the best kind.’
1. Carolina Gliders
2. Gold Coast Tritons
3. San Diego Stingrays.