NORTH Bondi young gun Lizzie Welborn impressively upstaged her childhood surf lifesaving heroes at the weekend, beating them on their home sand.
The 18-year-old paddled to victory, ahead of Courtney Hancock and Kristyl Smith, in the final round of the Summer of Surf ironwoman series at Surfers Paradise.
The race looked to be in grasp of Hancock, 28, after the board and swim legs as she took the lead in the ski paddle.
But as Hancock looked for a waves, Welborn aimed straight toward the finishing shute.
The two leaders found themselves on the same wave 20m from the beach and Welborn dashed to the finish for one of her biggest victories.
“It’s always a good feeling beating (Hancock) because she’s got so much experience, she’s a legend of the sport,” Welborn said.
“(Smith) has been racing for, I think, nearly as long as I’ve been alive.
“It’s an honour to race against them, it makes me feel great that I’m with them.”
Third place went to the oldest competitor in the field, Northcliffe’s Kristyl Smith, who won her first Australian Ironwoman title in 2005 when Welborn was six years old, but has never won a Nutri-Grain title.
Australian Ironwoman champion Rebecca Creedy placed fourth in the sixth and final Summer of Surf round to edge out Welborn for the Summer of Surf series title by one point.
Welborn will now fine tune her performance before racing for a share of $200,000 in the Nutri-Grain Final Series at North Cronulla on February 24-26.
“It was a confidence booster, except you have to go in not expecting too much of yourself because everyone steps it up for Nutrigrain,” she said. “It’s hard racing so I’ll see how I go.”
Welborn said she would work on her surf skills across the next three weeks.
“I need to definitely improve on my transitions and surf skills, just little things,” she said.
Hancock said she felt in good form and will be tough competition for Welborn during the finals.
“I’m really happy with how I’m feeling right now,” she said.
“For the next three weeks I’ll be having early nights, good food and no doughnuts or chocolate.”