Medals, glory, and bragging rights will be on the line this weekend as hundreds of inflatable rescue boat (IRB) competitors count down the remaining days until the 2018 NSW Sharkskin IRB Championship gets underway at South West Rocks.
The tranquillity of the winter stillness at this scenic Mid North Coast town will be temporarily broken on Saturday with the roar of motors and the thrill of competition as surf lifesavers battle it out for the right to be called state champion.
Fortunately it is a low impact event and come Monday, the beach will be returned to its pristine pre-race condition.
Almost 350 competitors from 24 clubs will be on the start-line throughout the two day carnival, a reflection of the growth that this high octane sport has enjoyed in recent years.
Twenty-three medals will be up for grabs across events including mass rescue, relay, and rescue tube for entrants aged from under 23 through to 45+.
One of the great strengths of the sport is that it allows the competitors to practice and refine the rescue skills that are so crucial throughout the summer season in a fun and unique environment, while also utilising one of the more iconic pieces of lifesaving equipment in the IRB.
The racers last took the water almost a fortnight ago at Caves Beach for the final round of the IRB premiership series, and are keen to get back into competition with the Australian titles looming on the horizon.
Caves Beach SLSC have been a dominant racing force all season having being crowned champions of the premiership on their home turf, but all eyes will be on Kiama Downs who are the defending NSW champions and aiming for their third straight crown in the format.
Interestingly in recent years while the South Coast powerhouse compiled a six-year premiership series streak that only ended last fortnight, their Hunter rivals quietly zeroed their focus on the state championships making it the focus of their season.
It was an approach that has paid off with Caves Beach being crowned overall champion club 11 times in the past 14 years.
If the form on display throughout the premiership series is any indication the stage is set for one of the more open contests in recent times.
Terrigal, North Cronulla, Newcastle, South Maroubra, and Woonona will all fancy their chances of a historic upset, while hosts South West Rocks will relish a chance to enter a team in the competition on their home beach.
This year will be the second time in succession that the NSW titles have been held at the beach with its good geography offering a degree of protection that should ensure the timetable runs to schedule.
“South West Rocks are used to hosting high profile surf sport events with the club always doing an absolutely fantastic job as hosts,” surf sports coordinator Luke Stigter said.
“We’ve been very lucky to witness a high standard of racing throughout the Premiership, and I am sure that will continue this weekend. I would like to wish all the competitors, officials, and supporters the very best of luck.”
The following clubs will contest the 2018 NSW Sharkskin IRB Championship;
Avalon Beach SLSC, Catherine Hill Bay SLSC, Caves Beach SLSC, Coogee SLSC, Cooks Hill SLSC, Forster SLSC, Helensburgh –Stanwell Park SLSC, Kiama Downs SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, Newcastle SLSC, Nobbys SLSC, North Avoca SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC, Ocean Beach SLSC, Queenscliff SLSC, Soldiers Beach SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC, South West Rocks SLSC, Stockton SLSC, Terrigal SLSC, Thirroul SLSC, Umina SLSC, Woonona SLSC
Racing is slated to get underway from 8am on Saturday, June 30.
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