In a major coup for the Hunter, the Surf Life Saving Australia IRB (inflatable rescue boat) Championships are heading to Port Stephens this year, following their cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The national event will take place at the Fingal Beach SLSC between 22-25 July with entries now open.
Surf lifesavers from clubs throughout the country compete in under-23, open and masters categories over four action-packed days of racing, that will also include the Interstate Championships, which features crews and lifesavers representing their state for national supremacy.
“The Australian IRB Championships is always a thrilling and exciting event,” SLSA national sport manager Wayne Druery said.
“We look forward to seeing all the crews again after not being able to hold the 2020 event due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“As one of our winter sports, it gives our surf lifesavers a chance to train, compete and ensure they are rescue ready all year round.
“IRBs are like the V8s of surf lifesaving.
“And, if you’re in trouble, these crews are the ones that you want out there rescuing you.”
First introduced in December 1969, the IRB is the workhorse of Surf Life Saving and is a vital piece of rescue equipment that is quickly able to reach a patient(s) and is involved in more than 1,700 rescues each year.
In moments where it matters most, the IRB is able to shave minutes off rescues to reach people in need quicker.
IRB crews consist of a driver and a crewperson with the objective of the inflatable rescue boat race is to rescue a “patient” or “patients” from the water in the quickest time possible.
Since its inception in 2005, the purpose of the IRB competition is to improve the skills of drivers and crews in order to improve safety outcomes on Australian beaches, which often present challenging conditions.
Queensland’s Kirra SLSC is the reigning champions in both the under-23 and open club championships from 2019, given the cancellation of last year’s event, while Kiama Downs SLSC in NSW continues to be the organisation to beat in the masters category.