The New Zealand Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) team have been crowned the first ever World IRB Champions at the Lifesaving World Championships (LWC) in Australia, after edging out their closest rivals by 22 points.
With only seven races to win the historic and first-ever IRB world title, the Kiwi team expected it to be a tough and very close competition. The races, which replicate real-life rescue scenarios, were made up of a men’s and women’s race in each of the tube rescue, mass rescue and single rescue, with a final event comprising of both crews in the mixed teams rescue.
The eight-strong Kiwi team took home a gold or silver medal in every single final, showing their skill at the top level against first-class competitors from around the world.
Co-captain and driver of the men’s IRB, Shane Edwards from Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service said “this is an unreal experience. I’m actually just speechless. I can’t quite believe it yet but it was so special being able to race with family and friends and know that all our hard work and sacrifices have paid off.”
Taylor Shrimpton (Sunset Beach, Port Waikato), co-captain and driver of the women’s IRB, echoed Edwards’ thoughts but said she was “absolutely stoked.”
“It is just an absolute honour to win and wear the New Zealand fern, although it’s still a pretty unreal feeling. We are so happy for the boys because they really stepped it up but us girls had an awesome run too.”
“We had so much support which was really cool too,” she added, with dozens of people on the beach cheering them on, the Black Fins watching the livestream from the pool, and hundreds of supporters back home sending the team messages.
Jaron Mumby (Fitzroy SLSC, Taranaki), Head Coach of the New Zealand IRB Team said they had one focus coming into today and they’re “ecstatic” that they’ve done it.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our crews and what they’ve achieved this morning. To be world champions is just incredible, especially after all of the work that’s gone into this campaign.”
“It has been a lot of hard work, passion and commitment to get here, so to arrive here and do what we’ve done is just phenomenal,” he said.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand Sport Manager, Mike Lord, said all of the New Zealand teams at the bi-annual Lifesaving World Championships did the country proud and have shown the world that we are a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.
“The IRB result today has really shown how strong all of our New Zealand teams have been right across the board in surf lifesaving sport. From the IRB racing, to pool events, and on the beach, our Kiwi teams have been consistently right at the top and taken on real powerhouses of the sport in doing so.”
“To have the IRB team and Junior Black Fins both current World Champions now, and the Black Fins a very close second, is just incredible. We are so proud of what all our teams have done representing New Zealand at the Lifesaving World Championships,” he continued.
That marks the official end to the New Zealand national team’s fight for world titles, after the international competitions including the Black Fins, Junior Black Fins and the New Zealand IRB team have wrapped up. However, many Kiwis are still competing for their clubs in the Interclub category of the competition where they’ll fight for top club honours.
*Australia secured second after winning more gold medals than Great Britain
Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157