Lifesavers fire up the engines for IRB Championships

More than 270 surf lifesavers will cast off the winter blues this weekend when they line up at Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast for the 2016 Queensland Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Championships.

The high-octane event will see representatives from 18 clubs across the state battle it out across two days of competition for surf rescue supremacy and one of the prestigious state championships up for grabs.

Surf Life Saving Queensland sports manager Stuart Hogben is expecting plenty of thrills and spills across the weekend.

“Traditionally speaking, there’s always a big rivalry between the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast clubs when it comes to IRB racing, but North Burleigh has been particularly strong in recent months and should enter this weekend as a firm favourite,” he said.

“But, having said, these championships always throw up some surprising results and more than a few upsets along the way.

“Sometimes all it takes is one big wave to negate months of training,” he said.

A precursor to the Australian Championships, the Queensland IRB Surf Rescue Championships serve to enhance lifesaving skills through competition, with all events across the weekend simulating ‘real life’ patrol and rescue situations.

“At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that IRB racing was developed in the first place to help keep our members rescue-ready over the winter months, and all events this weekend have been designed to reinforce some of the core skills that we teach our lifesavers,” he said.

“All races are designed to test and challenge the abilities of drivers and crews in a competitive setting, and the skills and surf awareness that teams will need to win gold this weekend are the same they need to patrol Queensland’s coastline, protect beachgoers and rescue swimmers in distress,” he said.

The Championships will feature a number of events across the weekend, including surf rescue, mass rescue, tube rescue, teams rescue and IRB relay races. Competitors contest the events in age categories of under-23, open men, open women and masters.

The racing kicks off with heats from 8am on Saturday morning, and continues on Sunday with finals action from 8am.

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