Queensland clubs have enjoyed plenty of success at the Australian Inflatable Rescue Boat Championship in recent seasons, but the NSW competitors will be counting on home-town knowledge when they take to the water at Thirroul from this Friday.
North Burleigh SLSC is gunning for their sixth consecutive national title, but after a stellar winter campaign that incorporated the Premiership and State Championship the NSW duo of Caves Beach and Kiama Downs are out to end the northerners’ streak.
Over 1000 competitors from around the country will be making the trek to the Illawarra beach with 17 NSW clubs counted in that number.
This is the second straight year that Australia’s premier IRB meeting will be held in NSW after Kingscliff staged a successful championship in 2017.
It’s been an impressive season for the sport in NSW with meets in Stockton, The Lakes, Caves Beach, and South West Rocks, while increasing numbers on the start line is a vote of confidence in its future.
IRB racing allows drivers and crew to hone their rescue skills and stay sharp over the cooler months while also providing the chance of regular competition and friendship.
In fact, recently released statistics from Surf Life Saving Australia, reveal that over 1300 rescues last season were performed using an IRB.
Competition in the three-day event begins from Friday with the opening ceremony and Masters Competition, while the Open Division is slated for Saturday, with the finals to be staged on Sunday.
As always with IRB racing, all eyes will be keeping an eye on the weather, especially as early forecasts suggest the possibility of a strong swell in the vicinity over the coming days.
Representative competition will also be held concurrently with the annual Interstate Competition getting underway on Friday afternoon.
After finishing third in 2017 behind Victoria and eventual winners Queensland, who have dominated the sport for a decade, the blues are confident that their squad will perform strongly in familiar waters.
Rookie coach Damien Woods said choosing the final squad was a particularly challenging task such was the performance of aspiring athletes throughout the season.
“In the end the selectors have gone for a team with plenty of experience and youthful enthusiasm. I think we’ve got the balance right and I am confident in us going out there and giving a great account of ourselves when we hit the water at Thirroul,” he said.
NSW Surf Sport Manager Rob Pidgeon is quietly confident of a successful weekend of racing.
“I would like to wish all the NSW clubs the very best of luck as they chase national glory at the championship later this week.
“The future of the sport looks in very safe hands, and I think the state’s IRB competitors will certainly perform strongly as they take on the very best Australia has to offer,” Mr Pidgeon concluded.
Wednesday 11 July 2018