Surf Life Saving Teams Gear Up for Intense 90 Mile IRB Beach Classic

Monday, 4 September 2023

The country’s top inflatable rescue boat (IRB) crews will soon be heading to the Far North for one of the most challenging IRB races in the world: the 90 Mile IRB Beach Classic.


The event, which has been running for 28 years, starts at Scott Point at the northern tip of the beach, and finishes 92.6 kilometres later at Ahipara, with four checkpoints along the route.


This year, 40 three-person crews will be competing, including a team from Australia.


Talia Comp, Surf Life Saving Northern Club Development Officer, said, “This is one of the most popular events on the Surf Life Saving calendar. It’s a great mix of endurance and skill, as the race not only requires physical prowess and teamwork but also a deep understanding of the coastal elements.  And they must do all of this while remaining clam under pressure!”


During the race, crews must stop at four checkpoints, with the first stop at Matapia Island.  Crews will then head to the sand bluff where they will carry their IRB 400 metres before re-entering the water.  At the third checkpoint, crews will have to run up Hukatere Hill before heading to the final stop - Waipapakauri.  Here, crews will remove the motor from their IRB before carrying it around a marked course and back to the boat.


Vicki Rehu, Far North Surf Rescue President, who organises the event, said, “The best time has been two hours and 15 minutes, so it’s a long haul, that’s for sure.  A lot of the crews are shattered by the end of it – their bodies are sore with blisters on their feet.”


But Rehu emphasised that the club makes sure to show the crews good Far North hospitality.


“It’s a heck of a lot of work for our small club, and it’s the only big Surf Life Saving event we put on up here in the Far North, but everybody just loves it.  Everyone has a great time, there’s good company, and of course a great feed at the end of it!”


Far North Surf Rescue collaborates with local iwi to ensure the event runs seamlessly, enforced by stringent regulations, including each IRB crew having a support boat in tow throughout the race.


On Friday, 8 September, the crews will gather at Ahipara for a briefing and a karakia.  The race will then get underway at 11am on Saturday, 9 September, depending on the tide.


Rehu said, “We’re ready to go!  Everything is in order, and we’re looking forward to having all the crews in the Far North.”


Comp added, “All the crews are looking forward to hitting the water and giving it their all!  Besides the competitive aspect, the event is also a fantastic way for everyone to catch up before the patrol season starts in October.  As always, it’s going to be a busy season for our surf lifeguards who will give up their time to make sure everyone who spends a day at the beach returns home safe and sound.”


The winner of the 90 Mile IRB Beach Classic will receive the much sought-after kauri trophy.


Event Details:

When:  9 September, 2023

Start Location:  Scott Point, Northland

Team’s Gather:  10am

Race Starts: 11am – depending on tide