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Surf Lifeguards From New Zealand And Australia Head To Otago For The Country’s Largest IRB Competition

This weekend, the small town of Waikouaiti in Otago will be abuzz as it hosts the largest Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) competition in the country.

The bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships give surf lifeguards the opportunity to refine their technical skills and physical fitness while driving and crewing IRBs.

Taking place on Waikouaiti Beach from 23 – 24 March, this year will see 119 IRB crews competing from 26 Surf Life Saving clubs (SLSC), including two crews from Kirra SLSC in Queensland, Australia.

Lewis McClintock, SLSNZ National Sport Manager, said, “The Championships are one of the most exciting events of the year and are often described as motorsport on water with hard, fast, action-packed racing.”

The Championships will be broken up into U19, U23, Open and Masters (30+) age groups, with events including Single Rescue, Mass Rescue, Tube Rescue, and Teams Race.

McClintock said, “IRB racing is not only a competitive sport; it’s also a great way for surf lifeguards to hone their skills for the busy summer months when IRBs are instrumental in rescues. Each Championship event mirrors real-life scenarios, with surf lifeguards navigating the surf and getting patients back to shore as quickly and safely as possible.”

Haley Mahoney, bp Head of Country, said, “Every year we see IRBs being used to rescue beachgoers and recently they’ve been vital when responding to weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle. The Championships are a fun and exciting way for surf lifeguards to enhance their skills so when they have to respond to these types of incidents, they are capable and ready. We wish the competitors a safe and exciting weekend of racing, and we’re proud to support the work they do with our brand on the side of their IRBs.”

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The last time the Championships were held in Waikouaiti was in 2019.

McClintock said, “We’re excited to return to Waikouaiti and we know the local clubs and volunteers are going to be fantastic hosts. St Kilda are hot favourites, having recently won the bp South Island Championships at the same venue a few weeks ago. However, North Island clubs like Sunset Beach Lifeguard Serivce, Ōpunake SLSC, and East End SLSC are all sending strong contingents so there will be some competitive racing.”

The Championships will start at 8am each day and for those wanting to follow the event, the Waves Results app will provide real-time updates.

McClintock said, “We hope the locals come down and check it out. With surf conditions and weather constantly changing, the competition is one of the most exciting events on the Surf Life Saving New Zealand calendar.”

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