Inflatable Rescue Boat

IRB’s (Inflatable Rescue Boat) are used for both life saving and racing and are one of the quickest methods for getting out through surf. The driver sits at the rear of the IRB and negotiates the boat out through the surf to the best of their abilities. The crewperson sits at the front to balance the boat and is used as a lookout for obstacles and signals. They are also the ones that pull the patient into the boat or jump out to rescue the patient.

Competition conditions are similar to lifesaving conditions but are a race to see who the better crew is. The boats are lined up on the sand facing up the beach where the driver and crew run down to it and turn it around, drag it into the water and proceed out to the patient the fastest way possible. A patient is picked up at a buoy line, with the patient safely in the boat the crew returns to shore. The driver beaches and exits the boat, the first driver to cross the line is the winner.

IRBs are used not only for rescues but are regularly out on roaming patrols performing preventive actions and informing members of the public of potential dangers. They are used in IRB racing where drivers train to improve their rescuing speed and skills and test them against other clubs at regional and nation competitions. Our club is proud to have some of New Zealand’s finest drivers as club members as at the 2010 Nationals New Brighton came home with an Open men’s gold and a U21 men’s Silver.

Becoming an IRB operator

To become an IRB Driver you must have a basic surf award, and be aged 16 or over. 10hrs of driving needs to be logged before you can attend the exam. All exams are held in large (1.5m+), challenging surf. The exam will be cancelled if the surf is too small. Therefore all trainee operators must be seen to be competent in these conditions before they can attend an exam.

Once trained, our IRB crews have a good level of understanding of:

• the mechanical aspects of the outboard motor (operation and basic maintenance)

• Surf rescue signalling

• the capabilities of the IRB

• Rescue techniques

Crewperson will also:

• Learn to read surf conditions

• Learn to use their body weight to increase the manoeuvrability of the IRB

Drivers will:

• Learn to make decisive manoeuvres to effect fast, safe rescues in a range of surf conditions.

• Become experts in reading surf conditions.