Sisters inducted into hall of fame

Carla and Steph Laughton head out on their way to the women’s mass rescue at the New Zealand IRB...
Carla and Steph Laughton head out on their way to the women’s mass rescue at the New Zealand IRB championships at Waipu Cove in 2013. PHOTO: JAMIE TROUGHTON
Cold water and rough surf make for less than desirable surf life-saving training conditions.

It was all part of what forged a hall of fame career for former Dunedin sisters Carla Murray (nee Laughton) and Steph Laughton, though.

The sisters, whose career with the St Clair club spanned from 2008-2019, were recently inducted in the Surf Life Saving NZ Sport Hall of Fame.

It is recognition for an illustrious IRB career, headlined by a world title in the tube rescue at the 2012 world championships in Adelaide.

They followed up with a silver in the same discipline in La Grande Motte two years later, alongside a silver in the mass rescue.

It was the highlight of a career that also included 17 national IRB titles, five pool championship titles, two sand national titles and 30 other medals across various disciplines.

The majority of those accolades were between 2008 and 2014, before they returned in 2018 and win a final national title in the tube rescue at Waikouaiti a year later.

Now a teacher at Lawrence Area School, Carla is a mother to three young daughters.

She is a member of the Kaka Point Surf Life Saving Club, providing volunteer help to the club’s junior surf co-ordinator, Fiona Wilkinson.

Steph has since relocated to Perth.

Murray said a focus on themselves had been key to the sisters’ success.

"IRB racing is both fun and exciting and, like most surf sports, has a strong practical goal as well, in improving your abilities during rescues.

"I think we did well as we were always trying to better ourselves, rather than watching what anyone else was doing.

"If you aim to race a good race, clean and technically correct, you’re winning, irrespective of the result. You aim for the perfect race, ideally."

The sisters had a later start than most in the sport.

Carla had come to Dunedin to study physical education at the University of Otago.

One of the modules of the degree included obtaining a surf lifeguard award.

She completed that and then joined the club at St Clair.

Steph followed "a couple of years later".

Surf Live Saving New Zealand said both had been highly influential as lifeguards and in the sport.

"Steph and Carla have been an inspiration ... by demonstrating longevity as surf lifeguards and in all forms of surf life-saving sport.

"Both have spent considerable time on their club committee, as instructors, examiners and patrol captains, while also playing a crucial role in maintaining high patrol standards set at St Clair, and in the Otago-Southland area.

"Surf life-saving is better off as a movement thanks to Steph and Carla’s past and ongoing contribution," the body said.

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