YAMBA'S Hugh Dougherty recorded his best result of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain IronMan Series at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, finishing second to Olympic swimmer Ky Hurst in a thrilling sprint finish.
Spurred on by his unfortunate disqualification for missing a turning buoy in round three at Newcastle, Hurst came from eighth place at the start of the day's final handicap ironman race with a trademark powerful swim leg and a cracking wave from the back in the board to win his second race of the summer.
The format for the day - the Pursuit - saw competitors race in individual ski, swim and board races where they accumulated points that were then converted to seconds for the final handicap traditional ironman race.
At that point Shannon Eckstein held a three second lead over his brother with Dougherty, who had his best result of an uncharacteristically slow summer, two seconds further back.
Hurst began the race 17 seconds behind Shannon Eckstein and that margin was exactly the same after the opening ski leg.
Eckstein was then desperately unlucky in the swim leg and had to look back and see Dougherty, Hurst and his brother surf on by.
It then became a race in two as Dougherty and Hurst pierced the break in the board - with Doughertylooking to have victory in the bag until Hurst found his way onto the same wave, setting up the sprint to the line.
A jubilant Hurst said he had ridden a roller coast wave of a season but he was not looking for any excuses following his round three disqualification.
"It's one of those seasons to tell you the truth. There have been so many highs and so many lows, so there's been no real plateau for me and today is no different," Hurst said.
"To be able to repeat my (round two) Portsea performance is certainly exciting and to have what happened to me at Newcastle is just unfortunate so I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles.
"We're not only here to race, but to put on a show for the public so each individual, all 21 of us who race, are role models for someone and we're meant to set an example so at Newcastle I wasn't going to carry on a prance up and down the beach just because I got disqualified.
"I had to take it on the chin and take it for what it was. No doubt I was disappointed, don't get me wrong, but now I don't look at treating the Series as a whole, I treat each race as it comes so today was the same, and so too will Noosa.''
Caine Eckstein beat older brother Shannon in a sprint finish for third, while veteran Zane Holmes overcame Nutri-Grain Series leader Ali Day in another spirited gallop to the line for fifth.
With the season finale set down for an Eliminator race in Noosa next Sunday, Day (95 points) holds a five point lead over Caine Eckstein, with Shannon a further seven points back. Hurst is in fourth on 76.
Earlier Candice Falzon produced the performance of her career, claiming her maiden race win in the IronWoman Series ahead of Bonnie Hancock and Kristyl Smith.
Smith now leads the title race by a single point from Liz Pluimers with Courtney Hancock six points further back.
Yamba girl Alyce Bennett finished in tenth place.
The final round of the summer is on Sunday at Noosa with the IronWoman race starting at 11.30am, the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain IronMan Series race getting underway at 1.30pm and the television coverage beginning on Network Ten at 2pm nationally.