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Wahine on Water at Omanu

MMLS lifeguard Julia Conway. Photo: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media.

Omanu Surf Club is hosting Bay of Plenty's first Wāhine on Water IRB day on Sunday April 28.

Wāhine on Water aims to get more females involved, competent and confident in IRBs, which are surf lifesaving's key rescue and response craft.

Surf lifeguards from around the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel areas made waves at one of the first Wāhine on Water Events, held at Whangamata Beach over the weekend of April 13.

As part of a BP Leaders for Life Project, young volunteers Phoebe Havill, Phil Pirie, Paul Hardy and Julia Conway formed Wāhine on Water after exploring ways to get more female lifeguards keen and confident to crew and drive IRBs (Inflatable Rescue Boats).

Surf lifeguards training using Inflatable Rescue Boats. Photo: SLSNZ

Fifty per cent of surf lifeguards are female, yet only 28 per cent of our IRB drivers are female. This is something the group want to address through pairing less experienced lifeguards with an experienced female IRB mentor. The intention of the Wāhine on Water day is to give women an opportunity to expand their boat experience, in a supported and relaxed environment.

The first Wāhine on Water training day gained a lot of attention throughout the country with other regions including the Bay of Plenty looking at hosting their own training days.

"It was a great day out on the water with lots of young women taking part and getting involved!" says Event Manager Phoebe Havill.

It's a big weekend for IRBs in the region, with the Bay of Plenty Long Haul stage race taking place today Saturday April 27 from Ohope Beach to Mount Maunganui's Main Beach.

Julia Conway will be racing for a Mount Maunganui team in the Long Haul, then will help with the Wāhine on Water day tomorrow, Sunday April 28.

Wāhine on Water timeline:

8:30am Breakfast

9:30am - Introductions, setup of boats

10:30-1pm – IRB skills and driving

1-2pm – Pack up IRBs

3pm – Debrief

Details on how to get involved with this camp can be found on the Surf Life Saving New Zealand website.

Surf lifeguards training using Inflatable Rescue Boats. Photo: SLSNZ

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