WHILE reigning Ironman Series champion Ali Day was surprisingly eliminated in heats at the state championships at Maroochydore yesterday, his Mooloolaba clubmate Hayden White signalled his intentions with an eye-catching display.
White won his heat and promptly declared he was in better shape than ever ahead of today's semi-finals and final.
The 25-year-old admits he's a confidence racer and he's got plenty of that after recently winning the Surf Ironman Qualifying Series and securing his spot on next summer's elite circuit.
"I'm feeling the fittest and fastest I've ever been," he said.
"(Confidence is important) especially for someone like me. I do get a bit nervous and anxious and if you're down it's hard to get back up so if you start on a high that's a good thing and you can keep it going."
White moved from Wollongong to Mooloolaba two years ago and competed on the 2013/14 Ironman Series but he failed to requalify for last summer's edition.
A structural engineer who works four days a week, he trained hard to force his way back into the top tier through the qualifying series.
Now, White's emerged as one of the main men to beat at states and the upcoming Aussies.
"After requalifying, you feel good and a bit confident.
"THE pressure comes off a bit and you can relax a bit and that's probably when you start to see your best results," he said.
His board leg is the best it's been "in a long time" while he expects to make the most of his favoured ski leg in today's finals.
"If everything goes to plan I will come off the ski near the front (of the field) and I will then try and work in with whoever I can (during the board and swim legs)," he said.
Seven Mooloolaba men progressed to the semi-finals but White's childhood friend Day was a shock elimination in his first major race since winning the series.
"I guess I just switched off a little bit out there," he said.
"There are no excuses. I just wasn't in the best form I guess. It hurts a little bit but I've got go move on and go back to the drawing board and get a bit mote training in for Aussies and try and have a really good race then."
Day is now the sport's marquee man but he said he didn't put too much pressure on himself for this meet. "Obviously I haven't raced in a while so I just wanted to come down here and do well for the club (but) there wasn't really too much expectation."
Among those to progress was Jett Kenny, the son of ironman icon Grant Kenny.
Jordan Mercer shows intent. See story on this page.
Check out Pages 4 and 5 for photos of yesterday's action and pick up a copy of tomorrow's Sunshine Coast Daily for more stories and photos from the carnival.