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It will be a mini-dress rehearsal for Warilla Barrack-Point SLSC ahead of the 2024 Oakberry Acai NSW Country Championships, recently announced as returning to the South Coast for the first time in nearly a decade, when the 2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership kicks off by the mouth of Lake Illawarra on 29 April.

Taking on host club duties less than nine months out from welcoming the state’s best athletes from outside the Hunter-Illawarra belt, Warilla will be the sight of the first IRB Premiership round after not featuring as a location in the 2022 season.

With five rounds this year – an increase on the four last year – Inflatable Rescue Boat racers will journey across the state to test their skills in the affectionately nicknamed ‘rubber duckie’.

Kiama Downs SLSC continues to set the standard on the water, but clubs like Caves Beach SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC and Terrigal SLSC will each be looking to improve on strong if inconsistent performances during 2022.

Caves Beach, in fact, went the closest of anyone to dethroning Kiama Downs, taking a Premiership round off them on the opening weekend at Terrigal and coming within nine points of victory at the State Championships at South West Rocks.

Reflecting on their 2022 triumph and looking ahead to 2023, Kiama Downs Team Manager, Steven Strong alluded to the need to keep working their “backsides off” to stay ahead of the pack.

“Kiama Downs has a really long history of doing well in IRBs, it’s what we do,” he said after the club’s 2022 State Championships victory.

“We’re a little club in numbers but we’re a big club in IRBs and I just love it.

“We’ve got a lot of people with a lot of experience over the years behind us, so that I think plays a big part. Our coaching and mechanics are just fantastic.”

The first round of the 2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership has been amended due to inclement weather and tricky conditions predicted for the South Coast on Sunday, with all racing set to take place as part of an abridged timetable of events on the Saturday.

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sport, Don van Keimpema is looking forward to seeing the 2023 Premiership play out, which sees five surf clubs host rounds over the coming months before the State Championships at Ocean Beach in July.

“The Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership is a feature event on the state surf sports calendar – it provides a great spectacle and showcases the skills of our membership,” he said.

“I’m really excited for the new season, which promises to be a really tight fought contest.”

IRB Premiership Rounds

Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC || 29 April

Queenscliff SLSC || 13-14 May

Bulli SLSC || 27-28 May

Broulee Surfers SLSC || 10-11 June

South West Rocks SLSC || 24-25 June

Thursday 27 April 2023