The world’s best IRB racers showed their stuff at the BP IRB North Island Championships in Waihi on the weekend

Monday, 18 February 2019

The Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) club whose teams won the inaugural World Championship IRB title in Australia late last year, showed their stuff in the weekend, with a convincing win at the BP IRB North Island Championships at Waihi. 

Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service brought a massive 12 crews to the event, and won the top point score after two tough days of competition on Saturday February 16 and Sunday 17, earning 179 points.

The next two clubs, Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving Club and Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club, took 63 and 62 points each, testing themselves fiercely against the world champs.

Overall about 58 IRB teams from 17 North Island Surf Life Saving Clubs took part in the day, facing big surf on the Inflatable Rescue Boats, which are used in about 80 per cent of Surf Life Saving NZ rescues. 

The teams put on a spectacular show, with good strong waves adding unpredictability and further challenge for the day, event manager Scott Bicknell said.

“Sunset Beach are a very strong club, and it was exciting seeing that skill they took to Aussie on show here in a tough competition,” he said. 

“New Zealand is known for our IRB racing, and Sunset [Beach] is the cream of the crop, but our other clubs also have some serious skills that they put on show too. It was a great day of technical racing. “

IRB crews are all current lifeguards, and many of the racers will have already used their skills to save lives back home at their clubs. 

The events reflect the skills needed to rescue people, with races to pick patients up out of the water, to rescue groups in the water, and relays where teams work together. 

“These guys make tight turns, are spot on with navigation and accuracy, and they know the water and the waves,” Bicknell said.

“It’s an exciting sport, and the crews showed we’ve got some real talent here, but it’s also a life-saving one, and this weekend’s racing showed that our beachgoers are in excellent hands with these lifeguards”. 

The BP South Island IRB Championships are scheduled for March 16 at Dunedin’s Waikouaiti Beach, and the National IRB Championships are on April 6 and 7, also at Waikouaiti Beach, Dunedin. 


Overall Points: 




Sunset Beach LS 


Mairangi Bay SLSC 


Waikanae SLSC 


East End SLSC 


Waimarama SLSC 


Kariaotahi SLSC 


Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards 


Bethells Beach SLSP 


Waipu Cove SLSC 


Westshore SLSC 


Whangamata SLSC 


Piha SLSC 


United North Piha Lifeguard Service 


Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service 


Pauanui SLSC 

Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services Inc 

Photo: Geoff Ridder


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