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Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) racing will return to the Northern Beaches when Round 2 of the 2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership hits Queenscliff Beach this weekend.

Two days of high-octane racing are on the cards, with Caves Beach SLSC looking to defend an early lead on the overall point score accumulated on the South Coast at Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC a fortnight ago.

It’s a familiar position for the Hunter-based club, having led at the same point of the series last year after Round 1 at Terrigal before event heavyweights, Kiama Downs SLSC ran them down over the course of the remaining race weekends.

In fact, competitors would be excused for feeling a strong sense of deja vu when looking at the overall point score heading into the Queenscliff leg – the top four is not only made up of the same four teams as those at this stage in 2022, but the teams sit in the exact same order.

Kiama Downs and Newport SLSC finished the first round 19 points adrift in second and third place respectively once again – albeit this time courtesy of alphabetic order after both clubs earned 64 points in Warilla – while Terrigal SLSC sat fourth a further 11 back as the only other club within 50 points of the winners.

If either Newport or Terrigal, or indeed any of the chasing pack hope to make the 2023 Premiership more than a fight for third place, things will have to come together at Queenscliff on Saturday and Sunday.

“We know what teams from Kiama Downs and Caves Beach are all about, and it won’t be easy for other clubs out there this weekend,” Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports, Don van Keimpema said.

“Those two are always there when we come to the end of the Premiership, so it’s really going to take something special to displace them.

“We’ve seen it in patches from some of these teams – Terrigal put together a couple of great race weekends last year, but they just couldn’t knock off the big boys, Newport seems to always be in the mix, and even your South Maroubra’s, your Thirroul’s, your Queenscliff’s, there are so many clubs capable of making a run if they put their head down.”

That starts this weekend on the Northern Beaches, where a full race card will test competitors’ skills after wild weather saw the Warilla meet condensed to a single day’s racing.

Friday 12 May 2023