IRB Racing

Inflatable Rescue Boats or IRBs, were introduced into Surf Life Saving in the 1970’s as a means of responding to a rescue situation more efficiently.

The IRB is also useful tool in search and rescue, vessel recovery and event supervision of swimmers thanks to its speed, visibility and on board equipment.


IRB competition is contended during the off season (May-July), given the need for the IRB during summer patrols. IRB Racing is a rescue simulation of a real life scenario, testing the skill of the crew in negotiating through the surf, manoeuvring the craft and adapting to various beach conditions.

As the IRB is the most commonly used piece of rescue equipment, the skills learnt during racing feeds directly back to the skills required during patrol.

IRB racing consists of four events in Male and Female competition. These are:

  • Surf Rescue Starting on the beach, a driver and crew race to a turning buoy, complete a 360 degree turn, collect a patient at a second buoy and race back to the beach where the driver exits and sprints up the beach.
  • Mass Rescue Completed in the same fashion. However, when the driver exits, they run around a beach marker while the crewman turns the boat around. They then proceed to collect a second patient.
  • Tube Rescue The same principle as above is adopted. However, upon rounding the first buoy, the crewman exits with a rescue tube and swims 25 meters to collect a patient. They return to the boat and climb in. The driver then rounds the buoy a second time and returns to shore.
  • Team Rescue This is similar to a Mass Rescue, however after the first patient is rescued, the driver and crew tag in a relay fashion and a second patient is then rescued.

Getting Involved

The minimum requirements to race are to have a:

  • Bronze Medallion, and
  • IRB crew certificate and
  • 25 hours boat time.


Want to find out more. Contact the club at and we can get you started with your qualifications.