AFTER a thrilling conclusion to the NSW Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) season, crews are set to take on the nation's fastest surf lifesavers in the 2017 Interstate and Australian IRB championships.
Three days of racing starting today is being hosted by Cudgen Headland SLSC.
The Interstate championships kick off this morning with the Australian championships to follow and continue over the weekend.
The 18-strong NSW Interstate team announced last month will look to knock Queensland off top spot. Their results in the past two years have improved significantly.
As hosts, NSW will again field a development squad with the up-and-coming athletes racing alongside the interstate teams, however no points will be counted.
A strong representation from Kiama Downs will bolster their chances to win the Interstate title with the South Coast club coming off a dominant NSW IRB season.
The club will hope to continue its form in the Australian champion- ships as they narrowly missed out last year to North Burleigh.
A total of 216 surf lifesavers from 14 New South Wales surf clubs will compete in the Australian championships with Kiama Downs and Caves Beach the best chances.
"It's a bit more open this year with Australian champions North Burleigh not having their strongest year but anything could happen this weekend,” Kiama Downs IRB captain Nathan Foster said.
Surf Life Saving NSW sports manager Rob Pidgeon said NSW clubs had performed well throughout the Premiership and state championships and was confident they could bring that form to Cudgen Headland.
"We're looking forward to seeing how the NSW crews compete this weekend,” he said.
"They've worked very hard to get to this point so we wish them the best of luck.
"Our Interstate team has trained well and we expect solid results. The growth in our sport over the past few years has been amazing and giving our younger lifesavers a chance to compete as part of the development team is a bonus.”
NSW clubs competing in the Australian IRB championships are Catherine Hill Bay, Caves Beach, Coogee, Cudgen Headland, Forster, Kiama Downs, Nobbys, North Cronulla, Queenscliff, South Maroubra, Terrigal, Thirroul, Wamberal and Woonona.