European IRB ‘Open’ Club Event – Bournemouth
A superb day of IRB Racing was held on Saturday 26th September between the Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers. Teams from Denmark, Germany, Wales, Cornwall, Devon and Wessex competed in flat conditions, but with superb weather.
The new SLSGB event staging formed a perfect focus point for the arena. Surrounded by Life Saving Sport banners and decked in SLSGB feather flags, the whole event looked both professional and well run.
The team from Wales was outstanding with a first and third in the Mass Rescue, first in the Tube Rescue and a second place in the Teams and the Single Rescue events. Denmark took the prestigious Single Rescue event from lane nine, the first time all nine lanes have ever been used at an IRB Sport event in the UK. What made it all the more amazing was that they wear wearing helmets with head cameras! The German team from Friedberg surprised even themselves by coming second in the Tube Rescue, a superb effort although Devon team Bantham were disappointed not to have won the Tube Rescue at their first IRB Sport event when the driver pulled a hamstring running for the finish line. Local teams Southbourne and Branksome were the other main place-getters with Southbourne taking out the Teams Rescue and coming a close third behind Wales in the Single Rescue. With Branksome coming second in the Mass Rescue, the stage was set for the hotly contested British IRB Champs the next day.
British IRB Champs
A second day of stunning weather really set the scene for a tightly contested day of racing. Once again, the course looked superb and the teams really felt they were competing at a National Championships.
Following on from their disappointment at the European event, new boys Bantham were hopeful of winning gold in the Tube Rescue. They crossed the line an easy first only to be disqualified for a technical infringement during the patient pick up leaving Saunton with the gold medal and the RNLI trophy; Southbourne, the silver and Whitsand Bay with the Bronze. The Bantham lads went away with the voice of their coach still ringing in their ears ‘warm up, stretch and don’t whatever you do get DQ’d in the final’!
In the final of the Mass Rescue event, Southbourne were convincing winners, picking up gold and the Warren Mitchell trophy followed by Hayle and Saunton Sands. The Teams Rescue event, contested for the first time with medals and for the SLSGB trophy saw the Bantham crew gain a consolation bronze medal for the hard work and training they’d put in. However, once again it was the local club Southbourne who romped away with the gold medal, this time only just in front of Saunton who were chasing them down over the final stretches of the race. In the last event – the ‘blue ribbon’ Single Rescue, teams were contesting the coveted Arancia Trophy and true to form it was local team Southbourne who blitzed the field to take the gold with a whisper between Saunton Sands and Hayle for silver and bronze.
With only three ladies teams entering there was an expectation that the women’s event would be a disappointment. However, the hotly contested races between Whitsand Bay and Southbourne proved to be one of the highlights of the day. A disqualification on the last race of the Mass Rescue meant Whitsand bay took out all three events and the overall ‘Ken Mitchell’ aggregate trophy. Champagne flowed and other clubs vowed to enter women’s teams next year, something that can only help develop the sport further.
Due to the strong depth of skill and number of teams entered, the overall aggregate men’s point score went to Saunton Sands, but when the points from the female events were added Southbourne were tied in equal first place. The rulebook had to be found and following a count back which took the highest number of gold medals into account it was local team Southbourne who were crowned British IRB Champions 2009!