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A clean slate and pristine conditions are expected to greet the state’s best and most passionate Inflatable Rescue Boat racers as the 2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Championships prepares to descend on Ocean Beach this weekend.

Hot off the back of the five-round IRB Premiership series, the pointy end of the season will play out on the Central Coast from 7-9 July, when teams from up and down the NSW coastline battle it out in a multitude of race scenarios.

While overall results from the series are to be announced during a presentation ceremony on Saturday afternoon, by far the revelation of the last two months has been Caves Beach SLSC.

For many years the Hunter club nipped at the heels of competition heavyweights, Kiama Downs SLSC only to fall short at the final hurdle, however the script was flipped entirely on its head from the moment racing began in Warilla on the last weekend in April.

Caves Beach was victorious in three of the first four series legs, picking up decent overall point score victories on the South Coast in week one, and then later in Bulli and Broulee. Their only stumble was a narrow second to Kiama Downs on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in tricky conditions at Queenscliff Beach.

A squad 46-strong will make the short trip south this coming weekend with the hopes of not only being crowned series winners, but State Champions as well.

While momentum and, by extension, form certainly falls in their favour, history isn’t quite as generous. Kiama Downs has picked up six of the last seven State Championship titles and has proven as a club that they perform best under pressure on the big stage.

That pressure may be stronger than ever, though, particularly if Caves Beach is crowned Premiership series champions on Saturday afternoon. The South Coast club has IRB success in its DNA and will not want to leave the Central Coast entirely empty handed.

Leading the local hopes, Terrigal SLSC likely figures as the team with the most potential to upset the established order, having rounded out the podium on two occasions during the series.

North Avoca SLSC and home club, Ocean Beach SLSC will each field teams as well.

Sydney Northern Beaches, Sydney, and Illawarra Branch each also boast reason for optimism, with Newport SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC and Thirroul SLSC, respectively, all likely to have their moments on the water across the weekend.

If they can string a few of those moments together, any of them could be in the conversation come Sunday afternoon.

Following the end of racing on Sunday, the NSW IRB Interstate Team and NSW IRB Development Team will be announced ahead of the Australian IRB Championships at Kingscliff in a fortnight.

The 2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Championships will be livestreamed on Facebook for the finals package on Sunday 9 July.

Wednesday 5 July 2023