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Gold Coast IRB Team Tough to out in NZ

Gold Coast IRB Team Tough to out in NZ

by November 7, 2015

They call themselves “Team Maussies”—one Maori and two Aussies—who are all members of the North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club. This crew, made up of Andy Kelckhoven, Tim Watene and Jack Watson, flew to New Zealand, borrowed a boat and motor from Sunset Beach SLSC and raced against a fiercely competitive line up in the “90 Mile IRB Classic”. They came fourth out of 42 competing team boats—not too shabby a result!

These men are a local surf club members who are also the Australian Surf Life Saving IRB Champions that recently won in July. They trained for the 90 Mile IRB Classic race on the Gold Coast. The Maussies were the only Australian team in the competition and finished higher than any other non-New Zealand team has done before. The boat that was generously provided was a 3.8 meter inflatable made by Arancia and powered by a 30HP Mercury outboard.

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The 90 Mile IRB Classic is the only race of its kind in the world and involves four challenges on the way. Stage one is to carry the boat nearly 400 metres on the shoulders of the three crew who must lift with no outside assistance. The second stage is a 300-metre motor carry followed by a 2-km run up a steep hill face. And finally a boat lap around an island out to sea which was eventually cancelled this year due to large seas that found the men facing 4.5 to 5 metre swells into a 60 to 70 kph head wind for nearly three hours.

This year’s conditions were the toughest since the annual race was held nearly 20 years ago.

By Andy Kelckhoven. Photos by Kate Czerny