Australian IRB Championships return for 2021 to Fingal Beach SLSC
The Surf Life Saving Australia IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) Championships return in 2021, following their cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19. The National championships will be held at Fingal Beach SLSC in the Hunter Region of New South Wales between July 22-25 with entries now open.
Surf lifesavers from clubs around the country compete in U23, Open and Masters categories over four action-packed days of racing, that will also include the “Interstate Championships”, which sees crews and surf lifesavers compete and represent their state for national supremacy.
“The Australian IRB championships is always a thrilling and exciting event, and we look forward to seeing all the crews again after not being able to hold the 2020 event due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said SLSA National Sport Manager Wayne Druery.
“As one of our winter sports, it gives our surf lifesavers a chance to train, compete and ensure they are rescue ready all year round.
“IRBs are like the V8’s of surf lifesaving, and if you’re in trouble these crews are the ones that you want out there rescuing you,” added Druery.
First introduced in December 1969, the IRB is the workhorse of Surf Life Saving and is a vital piece of rescue equipment that is quickly able to reach a patient(s) and is involved in over 1,700 rescues each year.
In moments where it matters most, the IRB is able to shave minutes off rescues to reach people in need quicker. IRB crews consist of a driver and a crewperson with the objective of the IRB race to rescue a ‘patient’ or ‘patients’ from the water in the quickest time possible.
Since it’s inception in 2005, the purpose of the Inflatable Rescue Boat competition is to improve the skills of IRB drivers and crews in order to improve safety outcomes on Australian beaches which often present challenging conditions.
The IRB Championships are an opportunity for surf lifesavers to demonstrate, refine and challenge these skills in a competitive environment to ensure that they are always rescue ready.
Kirra SLSC, QLD are the reigning champions in both the U23 and Open Club Championships from 2019 given the cancellation of last year’s event, while Kiama Downs SLSC in NSW continues to be the club to beat in the Masters Championship.
SLSA IRB National Championship dates:
Thursday, July 22 – U23 Championship
Friday, July 23 – Masters Championship, Interstate Championship and Open Championship
Saturday, July 24 – Open Championship
Sunday, July 25 – Open Championship
– Of 40,170 Bronze Medallion holders there are 14,321 surf lifesavers who hold their IRB crew certificate and 7,571 hold a Silver Medallion IRB Driver qualification
– 1,140 inflatable rescue boats in clubs around Australia
– Of 7,731 rescues in 2019-2020, IRBs were used in 22% of rescues (approx. 1,700)