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The 2023 Sharkskin NSW Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Premiership rounds the bend of the half way point on 27-28 May at Bulli, as surf clubs and their associated teams continue to jostle for position in the race to de-throne Kiama Downs SLSC as champions.

Ahead of Round 3 in the Illawarra this weekend, clubs from up and down the NSW coastline will be hoping to hit full throttle for possibly the first time this series, with the opening two weekends at Warilla and Queenscliff Beach experiencing alterations to race schedules as a result of challenging or hazardous surf conditions.

Caves Beach SLSC maintained its hold on the lead once racing concluded on Sydney’s Northern Beaches a fortnight ago, sitting 12 points ahead of Kiama Downs who scored the most points on the day but couldn’t run down the lead the Hunter club had established from the opening weekend.

The way things are shaping up is very similar to how the series played out this time last year, however Caves Beach will take solace in the fact they have not yet been usurped by the South Coast juggernaut. Indeed, by the end of Round 2 last year, Kiama Downs had not only overturned the deficit they faced from Round 1, but assumed the lead themselves.

Instead, Caves Beach’s Mass Rescue squads – namely the pair of Caves Maroon teams in the Over 35 Male and U23 Female Mass Rescue categories – ensured victories in their respective events would help them hold the lead into the Bulli leg of the Premiership.

Newport SLSC and Terrigal SLSC remain the best prospects of the chasing pack, sitting a further 19 and 24 points back from second-placed Kiama Downs at present. The Central Coast club showed great teamwork across the competition events at Queenscliff two weeks ago to close the gap to Newport and, quite possibly, are gearing up for more than simply a podium finish.

The next tier of teams includes South Maroubra SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC and Thirroul SLSC, who are each one strong weekend away from being back among the contenders for the Premiership’s top three.

Following this weekend, there are two more Premiership rounds to play out before the Sharkskin NSW IRB Championships at Ocean Beach in July. First though, the Premiership moves to the Far South Coast and Broulee on 10-11 June before moving north to the Macleay Valley Coast where South West Rocks will host the final round on 24-25 June.

Wednesday 24 May 2023