Wāhine on Water - Tammy, Shanae and Rikayla Richardson

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

The Wāhine on Water initiative aims to get more female lifeguards trained up to crew and drive inflatable rescue boats (IRBs). The programme pairs less experienced lifeguards with an experienced female IRB mentor, and the events give women an opportunity to expand their boat experience in a supportive, relaxed and fun environment. 

Let’s find out about three wonderful wāhine involved in the initiative, an IRB racing sister trio from Waihi Beach, Tammy, Shanae and Rikayla Richardson. 

Names: Tammy, Shanae and Rikayla Richardson 

Ages: 16, 22, 24 

Club: Waihi Beach 

Tell us who you are within SLS: 

Our family has been involved in surf for 14 years starting in Junior Surf. We have raced IRBs as a combined sister team (yea the Richardson Racers!) and absolutely love all things IRB! 

Between us, we have also been PCs, Lifeguard Committee members, Regional guards, coaches, competitors, and mentors on development camps, as well as attending and instructing on the amazing Wahine on Water. We definitely consider ourselves in it for life! 

Name the three most influential people in your SLS career: 

Our biggest influences are often with each other where we have always egged each other along in whatever we are doing. Donna and Natalie (members of our club board) have also been major influences for always supporting us and our club, not only in IRB development but in all things surf. 

When writing this we realised that when Shanae and Rikayla learnt to drive, IRBs were a bit of a boy’s club and we were predominantly taught by males so many of our role models were male and shows how Wāhine on Water has now brought some strong wāhine together! 

What’s been your scariest SLS moment: 

For Tammy it was being run over during IRB training (not by one of her sisters lol), for Shanae it was when Rikayla burnt and blistered her eyes while refuelling (before the time of safety glasses), and for Rikayla it was training on the bar as a new driver in some hearty surf! 

WOW moment/favourite SLS memory: 

There are too many moments to choose just one but the many different camps/development days where we have met amazing guards from all over NZ while developing some awesome skills have definitely provided some highlights! 

What does Wāhine on Water mean to you: 

Going back to how Rikayla and Shanae were taught predominantly by males we like to see the shift in diversity and the friendly, non-intimidating environment that Wahine on Water creates. These days are so important in developing skills and confidence and are truly such a benefit to SLSNZ as a whole. 

What advice would you give to yourself when you first joined SLS: 

Get involved in everything, say yes to all opportunities, JUST DO IT! 

We initially joined Junior Surf after Shanae got stuck under an overturned kayak and was left terrified of the ocean, so looking at us now, spending hours in the surf and absolutely loving it just goes to show how much growth you can find in SLS. Truly do as much as you can as you never know where it might lead you! 

Life outside of SLSC: 

Tammy is currently in her second to last year of school where she trains and dances in her spare time, Shanae is in her fifth and final year of studying Law and Environmental Planning while also coaching gymnastics, and Rikayla works as a Paramedic for St John and has recently decided to learn to ski following a move to Christchurch.