May 7 - 13  2023: Issue 582


Near Record Breaking Season For NSW Surf Life Savers: 4,605 Rescues Over The 2022-2023 Season

+ IRB 2023 Premiership begins

+ 2024 State Championships returns to Queenscliff

Last day of the 2022-2023 Patrol Season at Avalon Beach, Tuesday April 25th, 2023

Near Record-Breaking Season For Surf Lifesavers

May 2, 2023

By Surf Life Saving NSW

The 2022-23 Surf Life Saving season will go down as one of the most challenging on record for volunteer surf lifesavers and their Australian Lifeguard Service counterparts in NSW, who were responsible for more than 4,600 rescues along our coastline.

The season, which began with the September school holidays in 2022 and concluded on ANZAC Day last week, saw lifesavers and SLSNSW lifeguards complete 4,605 rescues, take an enormous 810,704 preventative actions on our beaches, and deliver just shy of 10,000 first aids – 9,640 in all.

The statistics also include an incredible 13 million beach attendances recorded at patrolled locations during the season.

These preliminary figures are only expected to grow over the coming days and weeks as more clubs submit their final stats for the season.

The Surf Life Saving NSW State Operations Centre (SOC) dealt with 2,183 incidents and requested 418 ambulances over the course of the seven-month season.

“I am very proud of each and every one of our more than 76,000 volunteer members state-wide for their actions during the latest patrol season,” SLSNSW President, George Shales said.

“Every volunteer has a role to play in the lifesaving functions our organisation is responsible for. What we’ve seen over the past few months is record numbers of rescues, which in turn is a result of great determination, dedication and a true reflection of how our lifesaving movement makes a telling impact.

“Our lifesavers and lifeguards were responsible for the most rescues in years and completed nearly 1 million preventative actions. These numbers reflect a truly impressive effort from our membership with the sole focus of saving lives and protecting beachgoers on our coastline.”

Sadly, and despite the best efforts of lifesaving personnel across the state, 50 people have drowned since 1 July 2022 in NSW coastal waters, all at unpatrolled locations or outside of patrol hours.

With two more months until the end of the recording year, lifesavers fear the figure may surpass last year’s record coastal drowning toll of 55.

To help combat this, the NSW Labor Government has made a $23 million increased commitment to Surf Life Saving in NSW – a meaningful  action aimed at directly addressing and improving lifesaving capabilities across the state.

“Preliminary statistics from SLSNSW shows the summer patrol season was operationally one of the busiest in its history,” Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib said.

“An amazing 4600 rescues were performed by our volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards. This is 4600 lives that have been saved by these skilled and brave personnel. Tragically though, we have seen 50 coastal drownings, all in unpatrolled locations.

“This increased operational activity – the number of lives saved, but also the large number of lives tragically lost, reinforces the NSW Labor Government’s commitment to an additional $23m in funding to Surf Life Saving NSW.

“This will ensure its 76,000 volunteers have the best equipment, the best training and the greatest ability to save more lives and protect our communities and visitors along the NSW coastline.

“This will be a lifesaving investment.”

2023 IRB Premiership Begins

As the Patrol Season closed the following weekend local surf club members from Avalon Beach, Newport, Bungan, Mona Vale and Queenscliff travelled south to take part in Round 1 of the 2023 IRB Premiership on April 29th.

With five rounds this year – an increase on the four last year – Inflatable Rescue Boat racers will journey across the state to test their skills in the affectionately nicknamed ‘rubber duckie’.

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sport, Don van Keimpema is looking forward to seeing the 2023 Premiership play out, which sees five surf clubs host rounds over the coming months before the State Championships at Ocean Beach in July.

“The Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership is a feature event on the state surf sports calendar – it provides a great spectacle and showcases the skills of our membership,” he said.

“I’m really excited for the new season, which promises to be a really tight fought contest.”

Mona Vale SLSC IRB Team at Round 1 of 2023 IRB Premiership

The annual IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition aims to improve the skills and technique of IRB drivers and crew as well as allow crews to demonstrate their techniques and abilities to perform rescues. Along with there being Age Divisions, there are five events in IRB competition to hone the skills of IRB Lifesaver Members:

IRB Rescue: teams are comprised of one patient, one driver, and one crew member. The patient is in the water at a designated buoy, the driver and crew member are at the starting line at the on the beach. On the starter's signal, competitors launch the IRB, proceed through the surf to pick up the patient, round the buoy, and return to shore.

IRB Team Rescue: teams are comprised of one patient and two crews (one driver and one crew member per crew). On the starter's signal, the first crew launches the IRB and proceeds through the surf to the patient. As the IRB rounds the buoy, the first crew member jumps overboard. The driver completes the buoy turn and returns to shore alone. The second crew member moves into the water, and takes control of the IRB. The first driver runs up the beach and tags the second driver. The second crew re-launches the IRB, proceeds through the surf to pick up the patient and the first crew member, rounds their buoy, and returns to shore to finish the event.

Mass Rescue: teams are comprised of one driver, one crew member and two patients. Both patients start the event in the water. The crew proceed through the surf, pick up their first patient and return to shore. The driver and the patient must exit the IRB where the patient retires to the beach. The driver proceeds to the start/finish line, rounds a marker and returns to the IRB. The IRB is re-launched and the crew rescues the second patient, returns to the beach and across the finish line.

IRB Rescue - Tube Rescue:  teams are comprised of one patient, one driver, and one crew member. On the starter's signal, competitors launch the IRB, proceed through the surf and turn around their respective turning buoy. The crew member then enters the water and swims past the turning buoy to their patients. The crew member secures the rescue tube around the arms of the patient and tows the patient back to the IRB. Once the crew member and patient are safely aboard, the driver navigates the IRB around the team's turning buoy and returns to shore to finish.

IRB Relay: this event is a continuous relay involving the four events in the following order: Rescue Tube, Mass Rescue, Teams Rescue and Rescue. Each leg is per the description above except for changeovers between legs. 

Warilla Barrack-Point SLSC on the South Coast was the host club for Round 1. Queenscliff SLSC will be hosting the second round of the IRB Championship on the weekend of 13 and 14 May. 

The 2023 Series will see five rounds, culminating with the State Championships at Ocean Beach SLSC on July 2nd. Ocean Beach SLSC is the oldest Surf Life Saving Club on the Central Coast. Ocean Beach is the perfect family beach, located on the Woy Woy peninsula of the N.S.W. Central Coast and situated on the shores of Broken Bay with views of Lion Island and Barrenjoey Headland.

Both the 2023 National and Interstate IRB Championships will be held at Kingscliff, on the New South Wales North Coast, from 20 July to 23 July 2023.

The Australian and Interstate Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Championships are an opportunity for the best IRB crews from across the country to compete against each other over one action-packed weekend promoting the skills required to complete a successful IRB rescue. Known as ‘IRB Championships’, this is an all comers event to determine which surf life saving club, and state centre, is the best at using one of the most effective rescue assets available in the water safety industry – the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB).

Club crews consisting of driver, crewperson and patient do battle in the 25 horse power, outboard engine powered inflatable rubber boats across a number of events including single rescue, mass rescue, teams race, tube rescue race and others. Normally contested between 850+ participants across Under 23, Opens and Masters age divisions the four day event delivered over a Thursday – Sunday format includes Interstate IRB competition where each SLSA affiliated state association competes as a team for overall state IRB supremacy followed by the club competition.

Due to anticipated severe weather conditions down south, the 1st Round was shortened to only a few events and 1 day.  So local teams didn't get show off all their talent, but will over the coming Rounds.

Newport SLSC and Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club did best out of the local clubs, scoring 64 and 24 respectively.

Events conducted on the Saturday were: U23 Male Rescue, Rookie Rescue, U23 Male Tube, U23 Female Rescue, 35+ Male Rescue,  45+ Rescue, 35+ Female Tube, 35+ Male Tube, 45+ Tube, 35+ Female Rescue, Open Male Rescue, Open Male Tube, Open Female Rescue and Open Female Tube.

2023 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership - Round 1 (Event Date: 29-Apr-2023) results:

The 2023 IRB Premiership Rounds are:

  1. Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC || 29 April
  2. Queenscliff SLSC || 13-14 May
  3. Bulli SLSC || 27-28 May
  4. Broulee Surfers SLSC || 10-11 June
  5. South West Rocks SLSC || 24-25 June

Report: A J Guesdon, Pittwater Online. Photos by Alan Freeman and Surf Life Saving NSW 

Surf Life Saving NSW State Championships To Return To Queenscliff In 2024

The final bit of great news out of SLS NSW this week is that the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships, proudly supported by Your Local Club, will be returning to our area for another year! The 2024 championships will take place from 2-17 March and once more be hosted by Queenscliff SLSC with support from Freshwater SLSC & North Steyne SLSC. 

Competition will be held on the following dates, with carnival programs to be released later in the year: