Stockton’s Stocks Rise In IRB Return

Among the hive of activity and the whir of motors at the second round of the IRB Premiership at Terrigal last weekend was the red and blue cap of Stockton SLSC, and the Hunter club could be forgiven for thinking they might not make the start line at all.

Saturday’s competition marked the first time that the club had fielded a team in an IRB race in nearly two decades with the team proving that good things do indeed come to those who wait.

“We were actually down to compete at Caves Beach in Round 1 but the fact that it fell on Mother’s Day meant a late change…the guys didn’t want to end up divorced!” said team manager Brendon Ryman who also doubles up as the director of education at the club.

“It was just such a relief to get to Terrigal and finally do some racing.” And it so very nearly didn’t happen.

Shortly before the races were to begin the crew discovered their boat had sustained a puncture and it was clear that it wasn’t going to enter the surf that day.

It’s almost enough to make you believe in curses, but in true lifesaving fashion, several other teams stepped up to offer their assistance, to ensure that the team from Stockton would get to compete.

“I would really like to thank Catherine Hill Bay, Woonona, and Forster for lending us their boats and helping us throughout the day and I know that our team certainly appreciated it,” Mr Ryman said.

The team which consisted of David Young, Brendon Ryman, David Freeman (coach) Victoria Naude, Jonathan Nuade, Nathan Woods, Nic Own, and Matthew Stace acquitted themselves well throughout their debut competition, entering nine events and reaching the semi-finals in three of them.

This is an outstanding achievement for a team that is extremely raw. Of the crew that made the journey to Terrigal only two had ever previously raced in the state’s premier IRB series with Brendon Ryman having to compete for Forster last season in order to gain experience.

“As a team we’ve had to come together very quickly. Several members of our team are only very new to lifesaving after they earned their Bronze Medallion in November and qualified for their IRB crew license in January,” said Mr Ryman.

“It’s great for our club that we’ve been able to field a team this season and at this stage the plan is to contest the last two rounds of the series at Birubi Point and South Maroubra. Ideally we’d love to get a crew down to Mollymook for State and that is something we’re very keen to work towards.”

Competing in the IRB series hasn’t been on Stockton’s radar over the past few seasons with manly challenges to be overcome including having to use older equipment.

“That’s a big part of why I’m delighted with our efforts at Terrigal as the guys were racing in boats that they weren’t familiar with, and at times it was difficult for us to even source a motor,” said Brendon Ryman.

Like many clubs, Stockton has faced the challenges of retaining members, particularly in that youth age group of 18-25. But the education director and IRB enthusiast has a vision of how to address this issue and he’s hoping that the image of soaring around the waves in a powerful machine is something that younger clubbies can relate to.

“By competing this season I think we’re demonstrating to our younger members the opportunities that this type of racing can provide.

“They are a fantastic resource to use in rescues and the chance to race in winter is something that the youth can be encouraged to enjoy. In the future I hope we can help more of our members earn their qualifications,” he said.

Twenty years is a long time to wait between races and if this crew has anything to say about the matter, the red and blue cap of Stockton will be a familiar sight on the waves for many seasons to come.

Photograph - The team from Stockton mean business during the second round of the 2016 IRB Premiership Series at Terrigal (top and centre). Courtesy of Richard Black.

Below - Pictured from left to right: David Young, Brendon Ryman, David Freeman (coach) Victoria Naude, Jonathan Nuade, Nathan Woods are all smiles after a tough training session. Supplied

Wed 25 May 2016