Halligan vows to fight back from tough surf series start

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kiwi surf lifesaving star Devon Halligan is determined not to be judged by a horror first outing on the  Telstra IronWoman professional series in Perth today.

Halligan felt lightheaded and dizzy during the final race of the day, amid heat, chop and strong breezes at Perth's Scarborough Beach.  After finishing seventh in the round-opening board race, she faded noticeably during the day and eventually finished the round in 17th, having to pull out of the last race.

"It was a really tough day at the office for me," Halligan said.  "Not finishing the last ironwoman race was really disappointing and not the start to the series that I was looking for but I'll be putting this round aside and looking forward to the Newcastle round in a couple of weeks."

The reigning New Zealand ironwoman champion was a key figure in last month's historic world championship win by the New Zealand surf lifesaving team, known as the Black Fins.  She qualified for the professional series by finishing second in the ironwoman at the Australian championships in April, the first New Zealand woman to qualify for the series since Lucy Pengelly in 2007, although Aimee Berridge was drafted in to contest the final two rounds of last season.

Today's opening board race was won by Halligan's Manly teammate Candice Falzon, with Rebecca Creedy taking out the surf race and ironwoman races and another Manly star, Naomi Flood, winning the ski race.  However, North Burleigh's Brodie Moir, the reigning Coolangatta Gold champion, was consistent throughout the day, picking up a second and two thirds to claim her first-ever win in the series.  Flood was second and Northcliffe's Courtney Hancock was third.

Halligan turns 20 tomorrow and will be having tests to rule out medical reasons for her fade, though she's already got her eyes on the second round in Newcastle on January 12.

"There are still five rounds to go in the series and I'm looking forward to getting back out there and racing again - I've still got a lot more to show."

Meanwhile, her fellow Kiwi Chris Moors had an equally tough day, finishing 15th in the ultra-competitive Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman opening round.

Four-time world champion Shannon Eckstein, who was second in the series last year behind his brother Caine, won the round with podium finishes in the surf race and ski race and a comfortable win in the ironman.

"I haven't had a win in the series in a while, but it was nice to keep my form going from world titles," Eckstein said. "Last year I wasn't enjoying it - racing went from a passion to a job - but, my lovely baby girl is nine months old today and having a family has rejuvenated my career."