About IRB’s

Inflatable Rescue Boats or IRBs were introduced into Surf Life Saving in the 1970s to respond more efficiently to rescue situations.

Since then, the IRB, or as it’s affectionately known “The Duck” has had a dramatic entrance into Surf Life Saving and is now a required piece of rescue equipment at every club in Australia, performing thousands of rescues each year.

The IRB comes into its own in large surf, where time is of the essence and conventional methods of rescue are quite time-consuming and risky. A skilled crew can negotiate the break swiftly and rescue several people at once, giving struggling swimmers a much greater chance of survival.

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


IRB competition is contended during the off-season, 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 4 events in Male and Female competitions. These are:

  • The 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.
  • The 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 crew 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 a new crew in a relay fashion to go out and rescue a second patient.
  • IRB Relay: This event combines all the events above into one race, with five crews competing as a team tagging the new crew after each event leg.

Getting Involved

The minimum requirements to race are to have a:

  • Bronze Medallion, and
  • IRB crew certificate.

Contact our IRB Captain to join in