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Rubber duck to the rescue

MAKING WAVES: Stockton Surf Life Saving Club’s IRB team in training. Picture: Max Mason-HubersHUNTER Surf Life Savingcontinues its run of attracting big events to the region with the first round of the NSW Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Premiership Series to be held at Stocktonnext month.

Hundreds of competitors from around the state, support crewand spectators will travel to the region forthe event.

All eyes will be on the home team Stockton Surf Life Saving Club, that willhostthe event for the first time.

Stockton IRB team manager Brendon Rymer said the club had not had acompetition team since the early 1990s.

“Wehaven’t had a racing team for about 30 years, so we’re really excited to be getting involved,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve gotten back into the competition for a long time and we’re learning fast.”

ON THE EDGE: Stockton will host the first round of the NSW IRB Championships in May. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The event wraps up a stellar season forStockton SLSC -one of the smallest in the Hunter branch -afteritplayed host to the iconicNSW Surf Life Saving Interbranch Championship late lastyear, celebrated its 110thanniversaryand re-introducedthe Newcastle Harbour Swim on Australia Day with record numbers followingits cancellationthe year before.

Teams use the IRB for a series of rescues,at times hitting the beach travelling at speeds of upto 40 kmh.

“It’s really fast and spectacular to watch,” Mr Rymer said. “It’s all about promoting the sport to 14 and 15-year-olds to keep them in Surf Life Saving movement and it’s a lot of fun.”

Kiama Downs SLSC put on a dominant display to claim their second NSWIRBChampionship in a row at South West Rocks SLSC last year.

The South Coast club took out the state title finishing on 92 points ahead of closest rivals Caves Beach (71), with South Maroubra (37) claimingthe final spot on the podium.

Caves Beach has been the state’s premierIRBclub over the past 15 yearswith a history-making 11 NSW titles in 14 seasons. The club has beeninthe process over the past few years ofbringing younger competitors through the ranks. Competition will take place atStockton beach on May 5 and 6.

The Stockton team includes:Brendon Ryman,Dave Freeman, Naomi Meyers, Nathan Wood, David Young, Brendan Johnston, Tom Dewitt, Thomas Enright, Rebecca Holt, Victoria Naude, Johnathan Naude, Phillipa Lowe, Todd Bonniface and Jack Rixon.

SPEED: Teams will hit the beach travelling at speeds of up to 40kmh during the competition. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

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