After a pulsating start to the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) season at Stockton Beach a fortnight ago, competitors are gearing up for a trip to Lakes Beach, at Budgewoi, this weekend.
Points will be at a premium as the battle to be crowned champion of the 2018 NSW Sharkskin Premiership Series heats up.
Currently in the standings Caves Beach SLSC sit atop the podium over defending champions Kiama Downs, while Terrigal also made a strong start to their campaign.
It’s still a very open competition with the clubs further back on the ladder confident of making a dent as Round 2 gets under way.
Saturday looms as perhaps the biggest day in the history of the IRB Premiership Series with 347 competitors listed on the start list.
This total is the largest number of entrants recorded for a single competition and is an indicator of the growth of this high-octane sport in recent seasons.
Clubs, too, recognise the lifesaving skills that it encompasses and are actively encouraging their members to take part.
Two clubs – Catherine Hill Bay and Soldiers Beach – will be fielding teams for the first time this campaign, while Bilgola have dropped out due to other commitments.
The Northern Beaches newbies who are making their premiership debut this season are expected to return in Round 3.
This competition marks the first occasion that Lakes SLSC will stage an IRB carnival and the club is looking forward to it, particularly after hosting a successful interbranch event two summers ago.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming the IRB teams from across the state this weekend, and to bring all of the action and adventure that comes with IRB racing to our community,” club president Sean Leicester said.
“Unfortunately, due to a few injuries we won't be having a team competing this season however our crew will be on the sidelines soaking up all of the action.”
With weather and the conditions always playing a role in IRB competition, Lakes certainly enjoy some geographical advantages, according to the president.
“The beach is quite protected from southerly winds and swells so we are expecting fairly light conditions this weekend, but we are very much looking to a wonderful couple of days of racing,” Mr Leicester said.
Umina and Caves Beach will host the final two rounds of the series in the coming weeks before competition shifts to South West Rocks for the State Championships in July.
The following clubs will be competing in Round 2 of the 2018 NSW Sharkskin IRB Premiership Series.-
Avalon Beach SLSC, Bungan 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, Mona Vale SLSC, Newcastle SLSC, Newport SLSC, Nobbys SLSC, North Avoca SLSC, North Cronulla SLSC, Ocean Beach SLSC, Queenscliff SLSC, Soldiers Beach SLSC, South Maroubra SLSC, Stockton SLSC, Terrigal SLSC, Thirroul SLSC, Umina SLSC, and Woonona SLSC
Racing will begin at Lakes Beach on Saturday, May 19, from 8am.