Surf rescue

Surf Rescue is a competitive event requiring only one driver, one crew person and the patient. This race simulates the most basic form of rescue: to pick up a single patient in trouble.


The race starts with the boat positioned on the shore line, nose facing out to sea. As viewed from the beach, the patient is placed to the right of a buoy positioned approximately 140 metres directly out from the shore. On initial firing of the starter’s gun, driver and crew proceed to drag the craft to an appropriate depth. The crew person holds the boat steady, allowing the driver to jump in and start the motor. The moment the motor fires up, the crew person jumps inside the boat, grabs the rope handle, and positions himself or herself ready for the patient pick up. The boat will now be in full operation and heading toward the patient as fast as possible. Depending on surf conditions, the driver and crew person may need to negotiate breaking waves, in which case the crew person must clamber as far forward on the bow pontoon as possible to ensure the boat does not flip but punches through the wave instead.


Once the craft is within 10 metres of the patient, the driver will back the speed off slightly while the crew person leans out across the port side pontoon, preparing his or her left arm to form a solid hook. In preparation for pick-up, the patient links both hands in a loop above his or her head. Precision positioning by the driver is required to ensure the craft comes up just next to the patient so that the crew person may hook the patient and pull him or her into the boat.


The driver then turns sharply around the buoy and the entire team prepares for a quick dash back to the shore by ducking down into the boat as far as possible to reduce their wind resistance. During the return to shore, the driver will usually travel at top speed, popping over breaking waves and driving down the face of spilling waves. As the craft hits the beach, the driver must ‘kill’, or stop, the motor, exit the boat and make a final dash to the finish line to complete the race.


The Surf Rescue is performed in both male and female categories and is the most anticipated and fiercely competitive event of the entire carnival.

Mass rescue

Mass Rescue is a competitive event that simulates a rescue in which more than one patient is in trouble. Hence, it requires more than one trip back to the buoy to complete the rescue.


Specifically, the Mass Rescue involves picking up two different patients, in separate trips to the buoy, with a simulated driver changeover in between. It proceeds as follows. Before the rescue begins, the team’s two patients are transported to the buoy, with one positioned in front of it and the other positioned behind. The first leg of the Mass Rescue is identical to the Surf Rescue race, except that the IRB travels around the buoy in an anti-clockwise pattern and the first patient to be picked up is the one located behind the buoy.


After the first patient is picked up, the team returns to shore, the driver turns off the motor and puts it into neutral. The driver then exits the IRB, runs up the beach, around a turning post, and then back to the boat for the second leg. During the driver’s run, the rescued patient exits the boat, and the crew person turns the IRB around to face the surf once again. At the same time, the patient still in the water moves from a position in front of the buoy to a position behind it, and prepares for pick-up.


As soon as the driver returns to the boat, he or she enters the boat and the second leg proceeds as the first. Once the second patient has been successfully picked up and the IRB has returned to shore, the driver cuts the motor, places it into neutral, exits the boat and runs over the finish line to complete the race.


The Mass Rescue is an excellent test of a crew’s strength and endurance.

Tube rescue

Tube Rescue is a competitive event that simulates the act of rescuing a patient with the use of a flexible foam rescue tube.


It consists of a driver, crew person, and patient. In this race, two buoys are positioned 25 metres apart in the water. The patient is placed at the buoy farthest away from the shore. The race starts in the same way as the Surf Rescue. However, when the craft reaches the first buoy, the driver circles it anti-clockwise. As the craft passes around the right side of the buoy, the crew person, with the lanyard of the rescue tube looped over his body, disembarks into the water. The crew person then proceeds to swim to the second buoy, trailing the rescue tube behind.


Upon approaching the second buoy, the crew person pulls the tube in and passes it to the waiting patient. The patient assists the crew person by wrapping the tube around the front of his or her chest, then leaning forward so the crew person may clip the two ends of the tube together. Once this is done, the crew person swims around the buoy and heads back towards the first buoy and the awaiting driver and craft. The patient must now lean back and kick as hard as possible to assist the crew person. Meanwhile, the driver waits on the shore side of the first buoy. When patient and crew person reach the IRB, the driver assists the patient into the boat, as the tube must remain on the patient’s body until he or she is in the craft. The crew person will climb into the craft and when both are in the boat, the driver must commence an anti-clockwise turn of the buoy before proceeding back to the shore. The finish is much the same as for the Surf Rescue.


The Tube Rescue is a true test of the crew person’s swimming fitness and strength. This race is very dynamic, as it does not always come down to the fastest craft or first team off the start line; often the outcome is determined by which crew person is the stronger swimmer.

Team relay rescue

Team Relay Rescue is a competitive event that requires two IRB teams from each individual club, each consisting of a driver, a crew person and a patient. One is designated the primary team, and the other, the secondary team. Set-up is similar to the Surf Rescue and the primary team starts the race in the same way as the Surf Rescue, racing out to pick up the first patient and then returning to the beach.


As soon as the primary team reaches the beach and the driver exits the boat, the secondary crew person is allowed to run out to the boat, turn it around, and drag it out to starting depth. The two crews must have control of the boat at all times.


While the secondary-team crew person prepares the IRB for its second run, the driver from the primary team sprints up the beach to tag the driver of the secondary team, who then sprints down the beach, enters the boat and then proceeds to pick up the second patient.


The race is complete when the secondary team has successfully returned to the beach, the driver has exited the boat and has run across the finish line.


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