Laughton sisters looking to have fun in South Island IRB champs

Stephanie Laughton
Stephanie Laughton
After a break of nearly four years, the Laughton sisters are getting back in the boat.

Former world champions Stephanie and Carla Laughton are lining up at this weekend’s South Island IRB (inflatable rescue boat) Championships at Warrington.

The sisters were a classy double act in the sport for many years, going so far as winning world championships as well as picking up many national titles.

The sisters decided after the 2014 world championships in France to go their separate ways and do something else.

Now they have decided to get back into the boat and have some fun.

Carla said it would be a way to promote the sport and show a bit of leadership.

The sisters will continue to race for the St Clair Surf Life Saving club.

Carla, who at 33 is two years older than Stephanie, said it was just a dip in the water.

"We just want to see what happens. It’s good to get back involved in the surf club. They’re very supportive and if we can be good role models for the younger members of the club then that will be good," she said.

Carla Laughton
Carla Laughton
"It is fun to be back. It is probably more fun helping out all the young ones keen to get involved. It has always been a good club atmosphere."

It is a fair way for Carla these days to get in  practice.

She lives in Lawrence with her partner and has young daughters Lucy (2) and Bella (1). A part-time teacher at Lawrence Area School, she said obviously living so far inland meant training was pretty much out of the question these days.

Stephanie, who used to be the southern region representative for Surf Life Saving New Zealand, travelled overseas after 2014.She is now back in Dunedin and working part-time at the university and has ambitions to get into the police force or be a firefighter.

The competitors in action this weekend will be hoping for decent surf.St Clair was last year’s champion and will be keen to repeatthat.

However, visitors from the North Island could also upset the local teams with Shane and Mark Edwards, from champion North Island champion club Sunset Beach,  keen to challenge their southern counterparts.

South Island IRB championship event manager Mike Lord said this weekend was set to be an action-packed day of high intensity racing and everyone was really looking forward to it.

"The weather is looking good with a 0.5m wave predicted and light winds, meaning the IRBs will be in their element and will make for some great close racing," Lord said.

"It is also fantastic to see the entry numbers for this event increase from last year showing how popular and valued these IRBs are, both in sport and for day-to-day surf life-saving activities.

"The things the athletes learn at these events often make them become more effective lifeguards, which is a win for everybody, including the public."

Racing starts at 8.30am today.

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