St Kilda to lead South Island IRB charge

Friday, 1 March 2013

A strong St Kilda presence is a feature of the last round of the BP Surf Rescue series in Dunedin tomorrow, when some of the best IRB (inflatable rescue boat) crews in the country compete in the South Island championships.

St Kilda have 11 crews competing this weekend at Warrington Beach, including three premier crews - Nick Harwood and Justin Reid, Stefhan Brown and Cory Westhead and Nic Brice and Joe Dobson.

The premier division will also feature Sumner's Steve Parrat and George Thomas, who starred in the senior division last year, and Brighton's Simon Roberts and James Walters.

There's also a nine-strong contingent from Sunset Beach making the long journey down from the mouth of the Waikato River, with the club's under-21 and women's crews having made a big impression on the series already this season.

St Kilda's 29-strong team dwarfs other entries, although neighbours and close rivals St Clair have 18, as does Christchurch's North Beach.

The North Beach ranks include three under-21 crews, while St Clair have three women's crews, headlined by world champions Carla and Steph Laughton.

In total, more than 120 drivers, crews and patients will line up at Warrington Beach in the last major hit-out before the national championships in Waipu Cove in three weeks.

The BP Surf Rescue series began last year and was an immediate success, providing regular and worthwhile competition throughout the season for IRB crews, who use the various disciplines to sharpen their rescue skills in real-life environments.

Sunset Beach's under-21 racers Mark and Shane Edwards gave the perfect example of this when they were involved in a dramatic triple rescue on New Years Eve.

The pair rescued a 41-year-old man and his two daughters, aged 14 and 11, at the Port Waikato beach, in a text-book IRB rescue. Shane Edwards featured heavily in the North Island IRB championships in Whakatane, which Sunset Beach won for the first time.

Racing starts at 9am tomorrow, with competition in single rescue, assembly rescue, tube rescue, mass rescue and teams divisions.

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