IN A duel of reigning Olympic champions the superior surf skills of Aussie Mack Horton saw him defend his Hamilton Island Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim title over Italy's 1500m Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri yesterday.
The pair made the last turn in the 2km battle shoulder-to-shoulder, and Paltrinieri stood up just as Horton caught the smallest of waves to gain the winning advantage.
Despite winning the event last year, this was Horton's first time on Whitehaven after the previous race was moved to Hamilton Island's Catseye Beach due to weather conditions.
Matt Pegg of Townsville, himself a former champion here was third.
Defending champion Natalie van Coevorden backed up her win the day before in the triathlon to win the women's event marginally ahead of Bowen junior Eden Hedges and fellow triathlete Emma Jeffcoat.
Event organiser Stephen Jackson said the weather was a challenge for the athletes and organisers alike but the weekend was an outstanding success.
"Not only were the races fantastic, but the number of participants in the supporting workshops meant that our competitors really got the opportunity to engage with the stars of our sport,” he said.
"With large clubs from the Southern States supporting our events, the weekend generates a significant amount of tourism dollars; but it also helps send out a message that the Whitsundays is a place where you can enjoy a beautiful destination and be active.
"The events also get great support from local and regional athletes and their clubs and we really appreciate their support.
"Our volunteers generated lots of positive feedback so we'd like to acknowledge them and our event partners allow us to give out the best prizes and race packs so thanks to Powerade, Maui Jim, Shotz Nutrition, Puma Energy, Espresso de Manfredi, Zipp, SRAM and Corry Cycles, Cruise Whitsundays and Garmin for their support.”
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