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In the middle of July, Portsea’s Inflatable Rescue Boat Racing Team set out on an expedition across Australia to race at the Australian IRB Championships in Kingscliff, NSW (just south of Gold Coast). The team of 12 was eager to exercise their racing skills learnt during the season, but in the balmier waters of the Gold Coast. The Championships had over 700 other competitors from across Australia and was held over four days of back to back racing, totalling 296 races.
Strengthening our numbers and talent, Portsea’s Competition Team welcomed athletes from Gunnamatta, Lorne and Fairhaven to race in the red and white, illustrating the strength of the Victorian inter-club bond at the national stage. The five athletes from various clubs represented their respective clubs and Portsea excellently, sharing their talents, minds and competitive edge with Portsea’s racing team.
On the first day, Portsea’s contingent were enthusiastic to get underway with the carnival. For Portsea, day one encompassed the U23 qualifying rounds, of which we had 10 entries in. The Kingscliff surf was around 2-3ft, yet, with a strong shore break. This had made the job of handling the IRB for each race quite difficult throughout the carnival. Portsea commenced its first race with a scratchy start for the U23 Male Tube event from an early disqualification; however, the team regained its focus by qualifying in 5 of its events to the quarterfinals. Most notable U23 final qualifying performances by, Alisa, Sophie and Finn who set the pace of both the quarter and semi-finals for Female Tube in 2nd place and the U23 Male Teams athletes, Blair, Finn, Nik, Luke, Georgia & Lexi, who had achieved 3rd place in both quarter and semi-finals.
Having amazingly qualified for two U23 finals, the team was slightly nervous for what day two held. Our first final was the U23 Female Tube. The girls had a great start to their final, reaching the turning buoy in the top three of eight crews. Sophie put out an incredible performance in the water, overtaking all other competitors and towed Finn back to the boat claiming first position; rounding it off, Alisa expertly navigated the crew across the line in first place. However, to Portsea’s dismay the team had received a technical disqualification at the pickup buoy, which after attempting to overturn, was disappointingly not overruled. The U23 Male Teams performed admirably making it to the finals but had unfortunately made a handful of small errors which saw the team cross the line in 6th.
Slightly rattled by the events of the day prior, Portsea had to reset themselves for the Open events and carry strong resolve into day three. Whilst the team struggled to get past quarters in the majority of events, some of which containing an enormous 17 heats, our young athletes performed admirably and displayed impressive racing, only lacking the results thanks to the intense competition. Yet, Portsea could count on its tube athletes to perform exceptionally well on day three and qualify for the Open semi-finals for day four.
Portsea were focused on our final day of racing with only two events remaining in the carnival. The female tube semi-finals was the first event for the day, the athletes put out a phenomenal performance crossing over the line in a qualifying second place; yet devastatingly the team had made a technical error on landing and unfortunately missed out on qualifying for the finals. The male tube team had also performed extraordinarily; in spite of their effort, the competition was too unforgiving and the male tube athletes finished one spot below a finals qualification place in 5th.
Portsea’s overall performance and experience at the Australian Championships was excellent. The opportunity, performance and improvement of the team’s 6 first year IRB athletes perfectly characterises the success of the national carnival, and additionally fronts the goals of the IRB Racing Team to assist in Portsea’s ability to field a highly capable IRB lifesaving service. The racing team is looking forward to welcoming new athletes into the 2024 season and reaching for the world stage in 2024. The team would like to thank the club for supporting the athletes to compete at Aussies and throughout the season; and would especially like to thank and mention our officials, Henry Kiss and Stephen Blewitt for their continual support and dedication to the team.
If you are interested in finding out more about the IRB Racing team, or any IRB relevant topics, please do not hesitate to reach out and find out what opportunities are available for IRB’s at Portsea.
Blair Nuske – IRB Racing Captain
Photo 2: SLSA Instagram – credit: Harvpix
Photo 3: Malcolm Trees Photography Instagram