A total of 39 crews from around the country are set to compete in the increasingly popular BP South Island IRB [Inflatable Rescue Boat] Championships, held this weekend at Warrington Beach, just north of Dunedin.
There are over 10 clubs predominantly from the South Island competing in the ultra-competitive event this weekend, where they’ll aim for top honours in races that mimic real life rescues.
St Clair Surf Life Saving Club, from Dunedin, were last year’s champions and are keen to replicate that result from last year. However, the calibre of athletes set to compete this weekend could make that challenge a little harder.
The St Clair club are boosted, however, by the inclusion of previous world champions and multi New Zealand title holders Steph and Carla Laughton, who are racing this weekend “for fun” but whose experience may prove invaluable for the Dunedin team.
However, visitors from the North Island could also upset the local teams with athletes from the BP North Island Champion club, Sunset Beach, Shane and Mark Edwards keen to challenge their southern counterparts.
The BP IRBs are famous throughout New Zealand as the bright orange rescue boats which are involved with a large amount of rescues, with these events aiming to increase the skill of lifeguards through competitive sport right around the country.
BP South Island IRB Championship event manager Mike Lord said this weekend is set to be an “action packed day of high intensity racing” and everyone is really looking forward to it.
“We are looking forward to racing this weekend at Warrington Beach. The weather is looking good with 0.5 m wave predicted and light winds, meaning the BP IRBs will be in their element and will make for some great close racing.
“It is also fantastic to see the entry numbers for this event increase from last year showing how popular and valued these BP IRBs are, both in sport and for day-to-day Surf Life Saving activities. The things the athletes learn at these events often make them become more effective lifeguards, which is a win for everybody including the public.”
The next major event on the SLSNZ sport calendar is the TSB New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships, in Gisborne from 15-18 March. The finale of the BP IRB Championships is set to take place at Waihi Beach in the Bay of Plenty on April 7 and 8.