Waipu Cove will host some of the best Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) racers in the country this weekend for Surf Life Saving's last major event of the sport season.
The 2017 BP New Zealand IRB Championships (formerly called the BP Surf Rescue Championships) will take place from April 1-2 with 269 athletes making up 83 crews from across the country.
Around 60% of rescues carried out by lifeguards each year involve the use of the iconic orange IRB and the events are designed to test crews in skills both in and out of the water from assembling and launching an IRB off the beach to picking up "patients" from the water.
Crews have already been put to the test at the North Island Championships, held at Taranaki's Oakura Beach on February 11 and the South Island Championships, held at Warrington Beach on March 11 ahead of this weekend's national champs.
Port Waikato's Sunset Beach managed to retain their North Island title while Dunedin club St Kilda stole the South Island title from neighbours St Clair.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Sport Manager Mike Lord says there will be some very close racing this weekend especially between the top regional crews.
"Owning the title of top IRB racers in the country is a big honour and these crews will be wanting to finish off the season on a high note so we can expect to see some impressive racing on display and a great atmosphere on the beach," he says.
Last year's championships saw crews battle through cold, wet and windy conditions at Papamoa Beach where Sunset Beach took the top honours, followed by St Clair.
The two clubs, along with Papamoa, have the highest number of entries this year, followed by East End and Opunake.
Other crews will travel from parts of Northland, Auckland, Taranaki, Christchurch, Wellington, Gisborne and the Hawke's Bay.
Five different events will be contested including the Assembly Rescue, Mass Rescue, Tube Rescue, Single Rescue and Teams Race across the Under 21, Senior, Women's and Premier divisions.
Racing begins from 8am on Saturday.
Crews per club:
Bethells Beach- 3
East End- 7
New Plymouth Old Boys- 4
North Beach- 3
Omaha Beach- 3
St Clair- 8
St Kilda- 4
Sunset Beach- 8
Taylors Mistake- 3
United North Piha- 1
Waipu Cove- 1
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager, SLSNZ
Phone 0276 488 823