May 26 - June 15, 2024: Issue 627


Round 2 Of Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership Series To Be Hosted By Fingal Beach SLSC This Weekend (25-26 May) 

prelude report by Surf Life Saving NSW

2024 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership Round 1 at Collaroy. Photo: Richard Black

The ducks are back on the water as state surf sport competition returns to Fingal Beach – the host club hoping to take advantage of familiar conditions and surge up the leader board in Round 2 of the NSW Sharkskin IRB Premiership.

After successfully hosting the 2023 Interbranch Championships back in December, six months later eyes are turning back to Port Stephens for Inflatable Rescue Boat racing, with some teams looking to consolidate impressive starts and others looking to take another step after the opening weekend in Collaroy a fortnight ago.

See PON report: 2024 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership Round 1 at Collaroy - Race Results + Action pictures by Richard Black

Heading into Round 2 – the end of which will mark the halfway point of the Premiership series – it’s a familiar pair jostling for bragging rights; Caves Beach SLSC and Kiama Downs SLSC the only clubs to score triple figures last time out.

Close behind, though, and perhaps far closer than many anticipated, is South Maroubra SLSC – within 10 points of Kiama Downs in second and a handful of wins from top spot. Thirroul SLSC and Newport SLSC currently round out the top five and will likely compete for podium places each round.

It’s to be a weekend to celebrate the little clubs, too, with hometown heroes, Fingal Beach SLSC working to build on the handful of points accumulated in Round 1.

“Fingal is a great little club and we’re excited to be racing,” Fingal Beach competitor, Adrian Futterleib said.

“We moved up from Sydney to Newcastle last year and saw IRB racing as a great way to get some young people into the club and get ourselves moving in the sport.”

Meanwhile, Forster SLSC will return to the competition for the first time since 2019, making the (relatively) short trip down south with a small but determined team from the Lower North Coast.

“The Forster team is looking forward to being part of the Premiership again, the COVID years have brought about some big changes in our team,” Forster competitor, Simon Lee said.

“We still have Beth (Lee) and I, who have been racing since the 90’s, Joe Williams who has raced a few times before, and we’ve got six teenagers keen to experience IRB racing for the first time.

“We’ve always seen the value of IRB racing for upskilling members and as a tool for youth retention, and it’s going to be a big day on Saturday with a lot to take in for our new racers. It’ll be great to be on the line again.”

Local surf clubs taking part are Avalon Beach, Newport, Bungan, Mona Vale and Queenscliff. 


Caves Beach SLSC – 117

Kiama Downs SLSC – 105

South Maroubra SLSC – 96

Thirroul SLSC – 68

Newport SLSC – 67

Bondi SBLSC – 33

Queenscliff SLSC – 29

Maroubra SLSC – 28

North Avoca SLSC – 24

Nobbys SLSC – 18

North Cronulla SLSC – 18

Fingal Beach SLSC – 5

Helensburgh Stanwell Park SLSC – 5

Avalon Beach SLSC – 4

Ocean Beach SLSC – 4

Bungan Beach SLSC – 0

Mona Vale SLSC – 0


Soldiers Beach SLSC – YET TO COMPETE


The 2024 IRB Premiership Rounds include:

  • Collaroy SLSC: 10-12 May
  • Fingal Beach SLSC: 25-26 May
  • North Avoca SLSC: 8-9 June
  • Ocean Beach SLSC: 22-23 June
  • IRB Championships – Cape Hawke SLSC: 5-7 July

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 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. 

Mona Vale SLSC members taking part in the 2024 Sharkskin NSW IRB Premiership Round 1 at Collaroy. Photo: Richard Black