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A hoodoo of nearly a decade was broken on the Central Coast on Sunday as Caves Beach SLSC emerged victorious from the 2023 Sharkskin NSW Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Championships.

In doing so, the Hunter club ended an eight-year run of Kiama Downs SLSC dominance and brought up its first Championships overall point score win since 2015.

On that day, Caves Beach shared the podium with second-placed South Maroubra SLSC and Kiama Downs, and history nearly repeated itself at Ocean Beach on Sunday, though this time the minor placings were flipped as Kiama Downs was forced to settle for second.

It’s a position that’s unfamiliar to the South Coast club historically but became increasingly common as first the Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership season, and then the Championships at the weekend, played out. Experience and talent aside, Kiama Downs simply couldn’t match Caves Beach’s weight in numbers and unbridled enthusiasm.

Inclusive of the five-leg NSW IRB Premiership series, for which Caves Beach was also crowned champions on Saturday afternoon, having waited patiently for the announcement for over a fortnight following the final event in South West Rocks, and the Championships run over the weekend, the Hunter club finished as the overall point score leader on five of a possible six occasions.

“We’ve got a young team and we’ve been slowly building up over the years, and we’re bigger than ever now,” competitor, Liam Kleyn said of his club.

“It’s all sort of come together this year.

“The younger generation coming in has created a good culture, and we’ve also had a few people come back this year which has really helped as well.”

The achievement, in no small part, comes thanks to the efforts of Coach and Team Manager, Scott Bryant, who has been part of the team for many years.

“He’s just so inclusive and happy to have anyone and everyone come down,” fellow Caves Beach competitor, Elisha Angel said.

“He’s the driving force behind the team, he’s the glue that holds everything together,” added Liam.

South Maroubra, meanwhile, pulled together a performance that exceeded expectations – the Sydney club finishing third ahead of both Newport SLSC and Terrigal SLSC who figured ahead of the weekend as the likely chances to threaten IRB racing’s veritable power couple.

Instead, the two clubs fell down the leaderboard with Newport finishing the best of the pair in fifth, behind a very impressive Thirroul SLSC.

“We brought a good team this year, some carnivals we were competing with nine in the past so it’s good to have bigger numbers,” Thirroul competitor, Kinley Morgan said.

“The team is so chill, it’s great to be a part of and there’s so much support,” added teammate, Jack Crick.

All eyes now turn to the Sharkskin Australian IRB Championships to be held at Kingscliff from 20-23 July.

Monday 10 July 2023