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North Burleigh Victorious at IRB World Championships

North Burleigh Victorious at IRB World Championships

The North Burleigh Surf Lifesaving Club recently dominated the World Lifesaving Championships’ Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) events in the Netherlands.


Coach Andrew Kelckhoven took his team to the other side of the globe to battle it out in the IRB section of the World Titles, which ran from September 1st to 18th, on the coast of Noordwijk.


Kelckhoven personally came home with three gold and one bronze medals, and the club collected seven gold, two silver and four bronze medals in total. Kelckhoven commended his team on their performance and teamwork, under slightly different rules and in different boats to that they had trained in.


“I think it’s a test to take a group of young people to the other side of the world and to come away victorious. I think our culture and we, as a unit, were awesome. We worked really really well together.”


Conditions were not ideal on the IRB days of the competition with minor chop and wind to contend with. “It was a little bit rough and testing at times, but nothing that was too had to handle,” said Kelckhoven.


The World Lifesaving Championships are unique in that teams are supplied with standard boats to create an equal playing field. This year, a 377 Arancia was used with a 30 HP motor.


North Burleigh had been training three to four times a week since the end of the previous year due to their competition schedule. “We were pretty lucky in the timing because our Australian titles were only at the end of July, which we won. So, we were very fortunate as it was quite easy for us to just continue training. We came out, had about a week off after the titles, and then continued training,” the coach described.


There were a total of 197 competitors in the IRB events, from 37 different countries. Kelckhoven described the event as having a good spread of competition.


Local club Kirra proved to be among the fiercest IRB contenders, North Burleigh having shared one of their Gold medals with the Aussies. “It was really nice to share that with a fellow Gold Coast club. The Kirra team are an extremely well-disciplined and skilled crew. They would probably have been the toughest competitors,” said Kelckhoven.


The next Lifesaving World Championships are to be held in Glenelg and Marion of South Australia, in 2018. Andy says he is very much looking forward to defending his title back here, but describes World Championships as being harder to win on home soil.

“Sometimes it can be easier to win a world title believe it or not, than an Australian title just because you’re away from home and you don’t have the depth,” he said.

Kelckhoven described Australian titles as being more difficult because everybody from around the country turns up for the national events and there’s such a high level of skill here. “I suppose it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that the future of the sport, particularly within North Burleigh, has a bright future,” he admitted.


To add to Kelckhoven’s roll of success, he and fellow IRB teammate, Kate Czerny, are being inducted into the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame for their outstanding contributions to the sport. The pair are the first IRB competitors ever to be inducted.


By Kelly Campbell

Photo by Dutch Lifesaving Federation