Teenager steals show with remarkable display at Coolum
SURF LIFESAVING: Teenager Brielle Cooper burst on to the elite ironwoman scene at Coolum Beach on Sunday, when she captured a stunning victory in round two of the 2017/2018 season.
The 18-year-old won the taxing M-shape Eliminator event in daunting surf by staving off reigning series champion Harriet Brown and Danielle McKenzie.
"I can't even comprehend what just happened," Cooper said.
"This is my childhood dream, this is what we train for every single day, so to get a win is so exciting I can't even explain (it)."
The Kurrawa talent went into the season drawing inspiration from ironman icon and club legend Dean Mercer, who died of a heart attack in August.
So the win had extra meaning.
"I think he'd be very proud of me," she said.
"I've known Dean for a very long time and for me he was so good at this sport and so amazing, so to get a win is very exciting."
Cooper largely dominated the event on Sunday and the result was even more remarkable given she struggled to make an impression in the series opener in Sydney last month.
"I went to Queenscliff and didn't make the final there so it was really disheartening," she said.
"In the past three weeks I've just been focusing on the one percenters, which on a day like today all count so I'm glad it's all paid off."
That she managed to overcome rough and large surf at Coolum despite her age was something else entirely.
She said she was "definitely" worried while racing.
"There were waves coming from every direction so just keeping on my ski (and board) straight, that was the focus in and out of the break zone," she said.
"It's so messy out there. You don't know what's happening."
Brown was delighted with her result.
"I am absolutely rapt with coming second as I was a little disappointed with my 10th placing last round," she said in an event press release.
"I made a couple of mistakes today and fell off my ski so I am kicking myself but I am so happy with my overall finish.
"Because the surf is all over the place you really have to get up the front quickly and hold your spot."
The news wasn't so good for ironwoman legend Courtney Hancock, who finished 16th amid the 20-strong field.
Round one winner, teenager Jemma Smith, was 13th.