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Simona de Silvestro

Simona de Silvestro is the epitome of inspirational. The Swiss born, Gold Coast local is currently competing in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with Kelly Racing and has previously raced in the IndyCar Series and Formula E series (a big deal if you aren’t in the race car know).

We sat down for a chat with Simona about how it feels to race around corners at 200 kilometres per hours and her advice for girls wanting to follow in her footsteps.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been on the Goldie for about one year now.

What do you love most about living here?
I think the weather is definitely the best part, I love being outside.

How did you come to be a racecar driver?
I started karting at age six. I have always loved speed and racing.

Take us through some of your career highlights thus far?
There are a few – definitely winning rookie of the year at the Indy 500 and my first podium at Indycar in Houston in 2013.

How are you feeling about the upcoming season?
I’m looking forward to this season even though we have a lot of work ahead of us in getting our cars faster.

You drive supercars, how does it feel to race around a corner at 225 km/h?
It’s an amazing feeling. The coolest thing about racing is moving this machine (the Supercar) on the limit, it’s great.

What do you do when you have time off?
I like playing sports (golf, squash etc. trying to dabble around with surfing but not super good at it)!

Any advice for young women who would love to follow in your career footsteps?
Believe in yourself. It’s not an easy road but keep pushing.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe: Hot Shots
Restaurant: Gemelli
How does your weekend usually look? I usually go for a run on the beach in the morning then work on engineering or emails. In the afternoon sometimes I play golf and in the evening I go to the gym.

 

David Swallow

Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media

Having recently been named Co-Captain of the Gold Coast SUNS, David Swallow’s 2019 certainly started off on the right foot, and it’s only been uphill from there. The team is currently on a winning streak after acquiring 14 new players and it seems there’s no stopping them now.

We sat down for a chat with Dave about how it felt to be named Co-Captain and his thoughts on the upcoming season. 

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved to the Gold Coast in 2010 from WA to play for the SUNS during their first season in the VFL – so about 9.5 years now.

What do you love most about living here?
It’s a fantastic lifestyle living here on the Coast and a great environment to train and play AFL Football. The people here on the Gold Coast are really friendly and our family loves being part of it.

Tell us how you came to be a professional AFL player?
I played all my junior footy back home in WA, before moving to the Coast to play for the SUNS in 2010 before they joined the AFL competition. I was then drafted to the club, and have loved being part of the team ever since.

You’ve won plenty of prestigious awards but this season you were named Co-Captain, what does that mean to you?
It’s humbling to be voted by your peers as captain of the Club, it’s a great honour to be able to lead the team and I’m really excited about the future of the Gold Coast SUNS and hopefully I can play a small role in helping to drive the club forward.

The Gold Coast SUNS are on a winning streak at the moment, what do you attribute to such a good start to the season?
It’s been a good start to the year, but we know it’s a long season and there is plenty of football ahead. Over the off-season we had significant change at the club with 14 new players and 13 new staff arriving. Everyone has really bought into what we’re trying to achieve which is the first step, and then we’ve done a mountain of work during the pre-season to set ourselves up the best we possibly can.

How are you and the team feeling about the 2019 season? 
Like I said, it’s exciting to have started the way we have, but it’s a long season. We just need to make sure as a group we continue to bring the same effort and intensity each week. 

Any tricks up your sleeve?
Haha no unfortunately I don’t have many tricks up my sleeve.

How do you feel about local Gold Coasts’ support of AFL?
It’s fantastic; the Gold Coast AFL community is one that has grown so much since I’ve moved here. We always get great crowds to home games, the crowd at our first home game of the season was one of the loudest I’ve heard which is exciting for the boys. We haven’t had that much success over the years, but hopefully as we continue to keep growing as a team, even more people will fall in love with our game.

If you weren’t a professional sportsman, what would you be doing?
I’m not sure at all. I always wanted to play AFL Footy and that’s what I’ve been focused on, but I reckon a musician would be a dream job.

Any advice for aspiring players?
Have fun and work hard.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Café for breakfast: Can’t go past Nude Sisters Café in Mermaid Waters.
Spot to grab a coffee: Again, would have to be Nude Sisters Café. If you haven’t tried it, you should!
Restaurant: Hellenika in Nobby’s – Best Greek food
How does a weekend in the off-season look like for you: Usually spend time with my partner Georgia and my son Charlie down at the beach. Pretty relaxed!

Jeremy Davidson

Jeremy Davidson, Chloe Hubbard, Wayne Hubbard

Jeremy Davidson is one third of the brains behind Palmy’s market food-style venue, The Collective, and probably one of the most appreciated people on the Gold Coast for that very reason.

We sat down for a chat with Jeremy about a brand new menu (including warming winter cocktails) and Christmas in July celebrations à la The Collective.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
About 12 years now. I moved here from Newcastle in the north east of England when I was 18 and fell in love with the place and made it home.

What do you love most about living here?
The beaches, the people, the lifestyle, the climate. I think the Gold Coast really lends itself to being outdoorsy, enjoying good times outside and by the beach of course.

Tell us about how The Collective came about…
It kind of snowballed and evolved. We first started talking about it when we were on a lengthy holiday in Europe – my partner Chloe, her dad and myself. We were sitting in the markets in Barcelona and Madrid just enjoying all the food and within those markets, you can bounce from one place to another and have a little bit of tapas and a glass of wine at one spot and then do the same somewhere else. They’re all set up like little stalls and it’s absolutely amazing. We loved that style of dining where you have lots of little tastes of different types of dishes and talk about all the flavours as you’re going. So that’s where we first kind of started thinking about the concept. I’ve spent the last 20 odd years now in hospitality, from fine dining to five star hotels and right down to casual stuff. My passion is really in the whole experience and everyone sitting down and sharing a meal around the table. So the concept started to evolve into how do we take that selection of choice and good times into a fully serviced environment. A few bottles of wine later we got to where we are today.

Why did the Gold Coast need something like this?
It’s a really exciting time and having been here for 12 years, the food scene on the Gold Coast has continued to evolve and I think our customers are getting more discerning, they’re really appreciating good food but they also want lots of choice. The movement with share dining has obviously really taken off and in my opinion has become the most popular way for people to eat. The Gold Coast is also about experiences, we’re famous for fun and so people sharing experiences around a table seemed to really suit what we wanted to do. We love the Gold Coast and especially the Palm Beach area as well so it all fit in together.

Tell us about the new menu…
We try to keep it as seasonal as possible. It is getting a little bit colder so this menu change has been geared toward a warmer, heartier feeling. Thing like gnocchi and pasta this time of year are really popular because it’s the kind of food that makes you feel warm and good inside. In our Asian kitchen Umame we’ve introduced a noodle bar, ramen-type concept, which is a nice wintery dish. We like to keep the menus as fresh and different as we can and make sure we always have a good selection.

What about the new cocktails?
Again we’re going slightly more wintery. Back by popular demand we’ve got our mulled wine and mulled cider coming on, we’re doing an Egg Nog which is really fun. It’s a traditional homage to the Christmas style Egg Nog with rum, brandy, nutmeg and cinnamon, it’s really delicious. Once a quarter, with our bar team, we do a competition where every member of the team comes up with a cocktail. We all sit around the bar and judge and give them feedback then the top selections go onto the menu. The entire bar team have a really intrinsic part to play in putting that together which is fun.

What’s happening for Christmas in July?
Christmas is really close to my heart and every year when it comes around to that time of year I’m used to it being freezing cold with jumpers and all that kind of thing so for the first two years of being here I struggled to feel Christmasy when it was boiling hot. It’s fun to have a Christmas when it’s cold so we’ll have the heaters on, the mulled wine out, really cheesy Christmas tunes going. People are invited to wear silly Christmas jumpers and all that kind of thing so it’s just going to be a really fun, banquet-style Christmas party.

What else have you got in the pipeline for 2018?
We’re working on a few things. We’ve just applied for our live music license, which we’re really excited about. We’re hoping to launch some live music acts on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon by July. There’s more coming, we’re continually trying to keep things interesting.

What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
I believe a great deal in karma so I guess it’s just being conscious of putting good stuff out there and hoping good stuff will come back.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: I’m biased but the stretch between Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin. That’s where we walk the dogs every morning, it’s just beautiful.
Café: It’s a toss up between Espresso Moto and Barefoot Barista.
Restaurant: One of our go tos is Glenelg Public House. Rabbath in Burleigh have a really great Lebanese-style tasting menu and closer to home, Zipang is a little local Japanese restaurant you can take your own wine too. The food is really beautiful.
How does your weekend usually look? Taking the dogs for a walk after a surf or the gym, breakfast at one of our favourite spots then in the afternoon catch up with close friends, maybe at Rick Shores sitting at Burleigh having a glass of wine or a cocktail or two and then trying to find somewhere delicious for dinner as well.

Courtney Hancock

As the only woman in history to win three major Ironwoman titles in one year, Courtney Hancock is a force to be reckoned with and we Gold Coasters are lucky enough to claim her as one of our own.

We sat down for a chat with the star athlete, smack bang in the middle of her pre season training, about winning the triple crown, how she rates her chances for the upcoming season and how I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here sparked a huge change in her career.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
It has been 11 years now. I grew up in Sawtell and moved here to join the surf club. I was already in the Nutri Grain series when I was at school and I wanted to be a part of the best club in the world, BMD Northcliffe and train with the best athletes.

What do you love most about living here?
I think the older you get, the more you appreciate things and within my career I’ve done so much travelling overseas and I do love it but I think it’s a really incredible feeling when you’re excited to come back home no matter where you are in the world. I think the reason is that our beaches are amazing, you can walk anywhere, there are headlands and parks, you always feel safe and you can go out into the bush if you want too, it’s so close. We’ve got the most amazing Sunday markets and really good shopping. I love the people and another thing is that you can travel literally 30 minutes down the road and you feel like you’re in a completely different place. It’s pretty special.

How did you first get into Surf Lifesaving?
Living in Sawtell, there was only one street in the whole town that was right on the beach and Mum and Dad had one of those houses on that street so we were stoked. Living there, they wanted us to be able to learn how to read the ocean and to know when it’s safe. That was the reason I joined, to learn how to swim and read the surf. I also loved surf lifesaving and I just really wanted to win. I charged when I was little.

What made you want to turn it into a career?
When I was probably eight years old one Sunday afternoon I was watching the Nutri Grain series on TV and I saw, when I was just doing the little nippers, what bigger me could do and I just fell in love with it. I recorded it and watched it over and over again. Mum and Dad would drive all of us to watch it and seeing the big guys in real life, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Even at that age I saw how fit and healthy and happy they were, it seemed like such an amazing life and I thought if I could have my office at the beach I would be happy with life. I was also lucky I was very determined.

Tell us a few defining moments in your life so far…
It’s been an interesting journey. Going back to when I first moved here it was hard living by myself, I didn’t know anyone and I was only 18. It was very difficult and our coach back then made me work hard which was good because a few years later I won my first Nutri Grain series and that really changed things. There was a lot of focus on me and I was still only very young, it was quite hard to deal with at the time, I had to talk to the media, handle sponsorships, there was so much going on and it was really challenging at a young age. I’ve been really lucky with my surf club though; it’s been an awesome ride. I think you get to a point where you’ve achieved everything you want to and go through a bit of ‘where to next’ and it’s hard to keep going. I had about 12 months where I hadn’t won many races and I got an opportunity to go on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. I said no the first few times, I really didn’t want to do it but ended up saying yes eventually because I could fit it in. I finished the Nutri Grain, I think I got fourth that year so I was a bit disappointed with my results, but I flew straight over, no one knew, and had a month in the jungle away from the beach which made me realise I absolutely love what I do. It was a spark. I went on and managed to win the Coolangatta Gold that year and the next year. Since then I’ve lit the fire again and I’m really keen. I think you need to go through those things to rekindle that inner fire. In saying that, I’ve been lucky along the way, it’s not easy but you’ve got to have positive people around you to keep you up. 

How did it feel to win the triple crown of events in 2011?
That was a very surreal year for me, it was the first Nutri Grain event I won and when I finished I thought, “I could retire now and be happy”. Since then I’ve just said anything other than that I’ll be so happy with. It was nice to then win the Australian Titles and for everyone to be like ‘wow Courtney really did it’ after a bit of negative media around the point score. The media questioned me about the Gold and were saying if you win, you’ll be the first person in history to win all three events in the nine months. That wasn’t the driving factor at the time, I had unfortunately lost my Grandfather the week before so that was the motivation for me to get across the line. It was a sprint finish after three hours of racing so I’ll never forget that one. I was very proud of myself that year and it really made me believe that if you put your mind to something you can really do anything.

If you weren’t doing this, what else would you love to be doing?
Everything. I’m inspired by so many people. If I could I’d want to be on stage, being Taylor Swift singing and dancing, that’s definitely not going to happen but that’s okay. I think at the moment I’m starting to think about my next chapter, unfortunately as an athlete it’s a short career. I want to work with kids, I love that, I’d also love to get involved in mental health, that’s something I’m really interested in. I’d love to get into the media; I think that would be really fun to still be with the sport and other sports. I think my heart lies in still keeping that little bit of sport and travel together.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Don’t worry too much and don’t stress the little things. Try to be the happiest, best person you can be. Do what you love and be with the people you love.

How do you rate your chances for the upcoming season?
At the moment, we’re in pre season training, which comes in as the hardest part of the year so basically it’s just getting yourself prepped and ready to get your foot on the line. I’m feeling really good. It’s hard when you come back from off season but I’m pretty keen to go for that Nutri Grain title this year.

Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: I like Broadbeach, Miami and Tallebudgera is always beautiful
Café: I eat everywhere, the food on the Gold Coast is so good at the moment. I like Metro in Broadbeach, BSKT is good. Paddock is a good one.
How does your weekend usually look: We do our Ironwoman session Saturday mornings, so that’s always really hard at BMD Northcliffe and finish up about 9.30 and get the rest of the weekend off. I’ll either go to the markets on a Sunday morning, go for a walk on Sunday afternoon, Saturday afternoons I love sitting down and watching the AFL and might go out for a nice dinner. I like going to Collective, that’s one of my favourite spots. That’s a quieter weekend.

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