Lifesavers Prepare For NSW Championships

The curtain will fall on the NSW IRB racing season this weekend when the best from around the state travel to South West Rocks for what is set to be a gruelling weekend of IRB racing at the NSW Championships.

South West Rocks SLSC is quickly gaining an excellent reputation for hosting major surf sport events having been the home of the NSW Country Championships for the last two seasons and previously hosting the State IRB Championships in 2014.

And this weekend promises to be another glittering event to add to the club’s impressive resume.

This weekend there will be over 310 surf lifesavers racing from 25 surf clubs across the state and in an intriguing subplot, two clubs; South West Rocks and forthcoming Australian Championship host’s Cudgen Headland will be racing for the first time this season.

South West Rocks SLSC President Rod McDonagh says the club is excited to have a team on the start line and host another carnival.

“It’s a first time in a little while we have a team and they’ve been training over the last couple of months so they should go well,” Rod McDonagh said.

“The enthusiasm of our club members particularly when we host carnivals is amazing and we’ve got a good track record. It brings the whole club together and also builds community support which is great for our small town.”

When the action begins, all eyes will be on Kiama Downs who were crowned Premiership Series Champions after the final round at Cape Hawke a fortnight ago. The South Coast club are also the reigning State Championship title holders after narrowly beating fierce rivals Caves Beach last season.

While Kiama’s dominance in the Premiership Series is unquestioned (2017 was their sixth consecutive title) their Hunter rivals have had much more success on the state stage having won the title 11 out of the past 14 seasons with many of these wins having occurred at South West Rocks.

Caves Beach IRB Captain Scott Bryant says they’ve been training towards this event.

“State and Australian Championships are the carnivals we train for every year. We aim to peak at the precise time which is why we’re fairly slow starters in the Premiership but we’ve been improving each round,” Scott Bryant said.

“Kiama Downs will be hard to beat but not impossible. We’ll have to get everything right to beat them [Kiama Downs] but I think if we do we can certainly give it a shot.

“It’s a nice even beach, flat water and takes a little bit of luck out of the racing and it all comes down to the skills of your crews. There’s no room for error and the good teams always come to the fore when it really matters.”

South West Rocks will be fielding one Open Male team while Cudgen Headland will be racing two, 35+ Mixed and Open Male. Due to the State IRB Championships not allowing Composite Teams to race, a number of the Central Coast team have transferred to Wamberal for the remainder of the season.

Surf Life Saving NSW Sports Manager Rob Pidgeon believes clubs have been improving all season.

“This is the last NSW IRB event and clubs have been looking forward to South West Rocks all season. We expect a few surprises this weekend with a host of clubs set to continue their outstanding form to win gold,” Rob Pidgeon said.

“South West Rocks is an amazing venue for surf lifesaving carnivals and we hope the conditions are favourable for a fast and exciting finish to our season.”

2017 NSW IRB Championships competing clubs:

Avalon Beach SLSC, Bungan Beach SLSC, Catherine Hill Bay SLSC, Caves Beach SLSC, Coogee SLSC, Cooks Hill SLSC, Cudgen Headland SLSC, Forster SLSC, Kiama Downs SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, Newcastle SLSC, Newport SLSC, Nobbys SLSC, North Avoca SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC, North Narrabeen SLSC, Ocean Beach SLSC, Queenscliff SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC, South West Rocks SLSC, Stockton SLSC, Terrigal SLSC, Thirroul SLSC, Wamberal SLSC and Woonona SLSC.

Racing is set to kick off at 9am on Saturday 1 July 2017 at South West Rocks SLSC. The Interstate IRB Championships start on Friday 14 July with the Australian IRB Championships to follow on 15-16 July at Cudgen Headland.

Photo: Crews racing in Round 4 at Cape Hawke SLSC.

Mon 26 Jun 2017