Mercer sets sights on defending ironwoman titles
New and improved Summer of Surf series to kickstart surf lifesaving season next week
If there’s a surf ironwoman or waterwoman contest that Jordan Mercer hasn’t won or podiumed in over the past 12 months, then we haven’t heard of it.
And after defending her Molokai2Oahu title for a fifth time just months ago, Jordie is relishing the opportunity to do just the same on home soil and defend the coveted Nutri-Grain Surf IronWoman crown she won for the first time last season.
But first up, Jordie will get the opportunity to defend her Summer of Surf title for a second time starting next week, a new and improved series now offering six events over six weekends at some of Australia’s most notorious surf breaks.
With every round broadcast on Fox Sports, it marks a massive boon for a sport that has suffered from significantly reduced rounds in recent years - and more again this year, sort of. The traditional Nutri-Grain series has now been re-named the “Finals Series” to be contested over just three days at Cronulla Beach in late February, making the Summer of Surf series not just an optional series for the big names but a legitimate qualifying series for all to largely determine who will contest the Nutri-Grain Finals Series.
It’s effectively a merger of the two, with Fox Sports to broadcast all seven events. And Jordie couldn’t be more excited to spend more time in the water.
RB: Jordie! You're about to start your first ever Surf IronWoman season as "defending champion". You must be pumped...
JM: I am pretty excited. It feels good to be labelled the current IronWoman champion. I’m on a mission to defend my title and can't wait for the season to kick off again!
There must be some pressures that come with the title...
There is the expectation that I will perform well and with that comes added pressure. Last season my most incredible performances came about when I best dealt with the pressure. I learnt a lot last year in respect to what works for me on race day. Focusing on the process while racing, rather than the outcome or result, made a big difference when I found myself in do-or-die crucial moments last season. Just letting go and enjoying the journey.
The Summer of Surf Series is really amping things up this year with more events and locations. What's that mean to you to see as a competitor?
It is awesome! The athletes and the fans of our sport are being spoilt with opportunities and entertainment. I am so passionate about helping to build and promote the Summer of Surf. Looking ahead, the Summer of Surf has a lot to offer the youth within Surf Life Saving. It makes me really happy to see. This year I will be up against some serious competition contesting my third consecutive Summer of Surf IronWoman pointscore title.
Are we seeing a changing of the guard? Is Summer or Surf vying to become the premiere surf ironman/woman series?
Summer of Surf caters for all areas of our sport and is contested by such a broad range of surf athletes - there are beach events, individual and team ocean racing as well as ironman and ironwoman events.
So in my eyes, the Nutri-Grain Series is the main event (in terms of ironman and ironwoman). It is the most respected series and it was the original professional series of our sport all of those years ago. It has a strong history throughout Surf Life Saving. Looking into the future there is no reason to say that the two events may become rival series. In the meantime, the Summer of Surf is the main point of qualification into the Nutri-Grain and the perfect place for some healthy competition throughout the season. It’s all covered on Fox Sports this year, too. Very exciting for our sport!
The first event is less than two weeks away. And you’re literally in world-beating shape...
I recently returned from Europe where I competed at the World Surf Life Saving Championships as part of the Australian Surf Life Saving Team. It was an amazing experience. I won the board race, ski race, sprint relay, board rescue and taplin relay representing Australia. Competing again the following week at the World Interclub Championships, representing my club Noosa Heads, I was first in the board and second in the ski and ironwoman.
Apart from that, I’m just trying to have some fun in the ocean on different craft to break things up. But I’ve got a solid training program closely reflecting that of last season - more time at the gym, plus I have been training at F45 functional training. I have noticed a new strength and fitness building.
The first of six Summer of Surf rounds will be contested at Alexandra Headlands, Qld, on October 22-23.