Surf life-saving: Laughtons to contest IRB titles

Carla Laughton
Carla Laughton
World champions Steph and Carla Laughton will headline the North Island IRB championships in Whakatane this weekend.

The event doubles as the second round in the national surf rescue series.

The St Clair sisters will make the long trip up from Dunedin for the inflatable rescue boat event, along with three other St Clair crews and three more from Christchurch, to compete against 45 North Island crews in the two-day carnival.

Steph Laughton
Steph Laughton
It comes just three weeks after the Laughtons returned from winning gold in the tube rescue at Rescue 2012 in Adelaide with patient Rachel Craythorn, which completed a remarkable haul for the siblings.

Over the past 12 months, they have won New Zealand titles in the pool, on the beach and in IRB events. The world championship crown was the final jewel in the crown.

''We've had great support from our club and it's been an extremely satisfying year for us but we're definitely not going to relax any time soon,'' Steph Laughton said.

''Winning in Adelaide was amazing but we've come back, established some more goals for the upcoming season and we're keen to get back out and start racing again.''

The pair dominated last season's North Island championships in Whangamata, though their world commitments meant they missed the first round this season at Waipu Cove, in Northland and they have only resumed training in the last week.

Waimarama's premier crew of Mike Harman and Ben Cross were also in Adelaide, winning their second consecutive tube rescue silver after also finishing second in Egypt in 2010.

They will add class to a competitive premier division, which also features strong crews from Muriwai, Papamoa, Otaki, Paekakariki and East End.

Muriwai's ranks include Surf Life Saving New Zealand board member Andrew Lancaster, who will partner Stephen Butt, while Papamoa tyros Mitch Brady and Troy Walsh claimed the first round of the series at Waipu with consistent form.

Perennial powerhouse East End (Taranaki) will have seven crews competing. Campbell Begg and Geoff Cronin will race in the premiers and three under-21 crews will do battle.

Racing starts at Ohope Beach at 9am tomorrow and continues until Sunday afternoon.

- Jamie Troughton