Female IRB crew numbers swell for the upcoming 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships

Friday, 8 April 2022

The 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships is taking place at Mahia on the 9th and 10th of April. 

The competition has seen a marked increase in the number of female IRB crews competing this year. Numbers have jumped almost a third from the 2021 competition, with 45 female crews registered to compete. The U19 Female category was introduced in 2021 and this year the number of crews has risen by 6, the U23 Female grouping is also up by 4.  

It’s likely this leap is due to the Wāhine on Water IRB programme which aims to get more women surf lifeguards crewing and driving Inflatable Rescue Boats. The aim of the initiative is to get more female guards trained up to crew and drive IRBs. Currently half of surf lifeguards are female and they make up 49% of lifeguards qualifying as crew members, yet they make up only 28% of IRB drivers. 

Stella Reid from Pauanui SLSC will be competing in U23 Females category and has been an IRB instructor at a Wāhine on Water event. She says “Wāhine on Water helps build the skills to get better at driving and crewing which then builds confidence with IRBs when patrolling. This encourages more females to then get into competing”. 

The bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships has a proud history of being filled with hard, fast, and action-packed racing. The largest Inflatable Rescue Boat racing competition on the Surf Life Saving calendar, crews from throughout the country will line up to showcase their surf skills, fitness and experience amongst their peers. 

The competition includes several events, requiring varying levels of technical skill and physical fitness. With surf and weather conditions constantly changing, the competition has proved to be one of the most exciting competitions of the Surf Life Saving calendar. 

29 Clubs, 104 Crews and 325 competitors are set to compete in the 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships. Mark Inglis, Surf Life Saving Event Manager says, “We’re stoked for the final fixture on the Surf Sport calendar. The crews will be will be going full throttle to make it onto the podium this weekend.”  

“Recent North Island Champions Sunset Beach, South Island Champions St Kilda and last year’s National Champions East End will be among those looking for top honours along with the many other contenders from throughout the country. We're looking forward to seeing some red-hot racing.” 

bp Head of Country NZ Matt Elliott says, “The 2022 bp Surf Rescue New Zealand Championships is the pinnacle Surf Life Saving IRB competition of the year. It’s a hugely exciting event but what also makes it so special is that it helps ensure lifeguards’ rescue skills, such as speed, rescue pick-up and teamwork, are at their very best. This means lifeguards can provide the very best response for incidents, with IRBs used in 42% of all rescues. We send best wishes from our bp team to all the IRB crews competing over the weekend.” 

The event was originally scheduled to be held at Waikanae SLSC, however, the recent flooding in the area resulted in potential water quality issues and significant debris across the beach that could not be cleared in time for the event. Following consultation with the local council and Waikanae SLSC, the location was changed to Mahia Beach, the first time for an SLSNZ competition. 

Mr Inglis says, "Mahia is a fantastic place to visit, and once again Gisborne is showing its versatility for events. SLSNZ very much appreciates the efforts of the Waikanae club and their members on the matter.” 

Photo credit - Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services