Rough surf ups ante

The Kiama Downs IRB team, who did superbly to finish second at the national titles at Kingscliff last week.
The Kiama Downs IRB team, who did superbly to finish second at the national titles at Kingscliff last week.

THE 2014 surf lifesaving IRB competition season culminated in the Australian titles held at Kingscliff last weekend.

Coming off the back of a win in the NSW premiership series and also the NSW state titles, the team from Kiama Downs was primed for a solid performance at the nationals.

The far north coast of NSW turned on the weather with three fine and warm days of competition.

Day one started with the interstate competition, with Kiama Downs well represented through captain-coach Nathan Foster and managers Naida and Steven Guy.

Unfortunately, Queensland were too strong on the day.

The national titles commenced after that with an opening ceremony and march past. Veterans Steven Guy and Stephen Strong are the sport's longest-standing competitors and were honoured with the privilege of reading the Athletes' Oath as part of the opening ceremony.

The following three days showcased 800 of the nation's best rescue crews fighting it out for the chance to compete in the finals on Sunday.

The surf conditions were exciting, but well managed by both the crews and carnival officials.

Competition was suspended midway through Saturday due to dangerous surf.

Sunday dawned with the Downs well positioned, having at least one crew through in each of the eight events entered in the semi-finals.

The club made six finals and ended up gaining five medals to finish second to the Queensland IRB powerhouse North Burleigh.

The team from Kurrawa finished third.

For small country club Kiama Downs, this was a very impressive result.

The Downs' assault was spearheaded by a gold medal performance by the female team event contested by Naida Guy, Tamara Sutton, Nicky Lewis, Kylie Strong, Kirsty Honey and Kaye Norris.

The crew of Naida, Guy and Sutton were narrowly pipped at the post in the straight female rescue event to take home the bronze medal.

IRB stalwarts Nathan Foster and Troy Kirkby combined with patient Kate Whitaker to bring home a bronze medal in the male rescue.

Local fitness fanatic Blair Joynson showed his swimming form in the male tube event, teaming up with Foster and Brad Honey with another bronze medal performance.

The highlight for the team was the final event of the day, the IRB relay event.

This event combines all four of the events at the carnival and requires 16 competitors.

The relay must have two of the four legs completed by females.

After an epic performance with the crews dealing with a severe inshore current, the Kiama Downs team toughed it out and came away with another bronze medal.

While the team has performed consistently well for many years, this year was the best result in recent history.