Surf Sports


Sprint: competitors race on a straight sand course of 90 metres (70m for juniors) to the finishing line.

Relay: teams of 4 competitors race on a straight sand course of 90 metres (70m for juniors) with a baton, running one lap each. The final runner of a team over the finish line wins.

Beach Run: competitors race on a sand course for 1km or 2km races.

Beach Flags: competitors start lying on their stomach facing away from a baton/s buried in the sand 15 – 20 metres away. There are always fewer batons than competitors. On the starting gun, competitors rise, turn and race to secure a baton. The competitor(s) who fail to obtain a baton are eliminated. The process repeats until there is a single winner.

Board Race & Board Relay: from the beach (standing start) each competitor enters the water with their racing board, paddles around all buoys and returns to the beach. The winner is judged by the first competitor to cross the finish line on their feet and in contact with their board. The relay event is the same format, contested in teams of 3.

Ski Race, Double Ski Race & Ski Relay: from a floating start, competitors paddle their surf ski around three buoys and return to the finish line. The finish is judged when any part of the surf ski crosses the finish line with the competitor and their paddle all in contact. Ski events can be single or double (two people in the same ski). The relay event is the same format, contested in teams of 3.

Board Rescue: this two-person event comprises of a swimmer and a racing board paddler. The race commences with the swimmer swimming to their allocated buoy and then signalling back to the beach for their board paddler to come out and collect them. Once the paddler reaches the swimmer, the two paddle the board back to beach and cross the finish line.

Surf Race & Surf Teams: from a standing start on the beach, competitors run, wade and swim 400 meters to sea to round as set of buoys and then return to the beach. The event concludes with a run to the finishing line. In a Surf Teams event, clubs enter multiple competitors in the one race, and the final winning team is determined by the cumulative points of team members’ final placings. 

Wade & Wade Relay (Juniors): competitors run out to an allocated turning mark at knee depth water and then the competitors may either wade, duck dive or swim along the beach to another marker before returning to the beach to run to the finish line. The relay event is in the same format, with teams of 4. 

The surf boat was developed as a rescue craft, however the introduction of inflatable rescue boats (IRB’s) and jet skis meant that the surfboat was no longer used a rescue craft. Although no longer used in rescues, intense regional, state and national boat competitions with the incredible commitment and enthusiasm of thousands of participants, and in recent years a massive increase in female crew members, has kept this challenging and thrilling sport alive.


Surf boat races involve four rowers and a sweep in an eight metre surf boat, with a maximum of seven crews in each race. The course consists of a start in approx knee depth water, then a 400m row out to sea through the break before rounding a turning buoy (Buoyo!) and then a 400m return back to the beach hopefully with the assistance of some good runners and a wave.


The Coffs Harbour Club is always on the lookout for new rowers of all agers.  Especially junior rowers (U/19 & U/23) as they represent the future of our sport. Young rowers will be placed in the junior rowing squad and guided through our surf boat rowing academy program.


Crew members must be volunteer Surf Life Savers (Bronze Medallion holders) and 16 years of age to compete. The rowing discipline commands a high level of fitness, commitment and skill. Competitions typically commence at the end of October and run through until the National Titles in April. During this period the Coffs Harbour boaties compete in the North Coast Surf Boat Series which involves clubs from the Queensland border in the north to Foster in the south and at the Country, State and National Titles.


We are a competitive club but also a very social and welcoming club to all those that wish to jump in a surf boat and catch a wave. It’s a fun, challenging and very rewarding sport in the summer!


To find out more about what is involved in surfboat rowing at the Coffs Harbour Surf Club simply contact the boat captain below.

Boat Captain: 0423233714 (Tommy) or email


Iron Man & Iron Woman: these events are conducted over a course consisting of three legs – a swim, surf ski and surf board – and concluding with a beach sprint to the finish line. The order of the legs may vary and is decided by draw prior to the event.

Taplin Relay:  Teams of swimmers, board paddlers and ski paddlers, compete together as a team relay over an Ironman course. The order of the legs may vary and is decided by draw prior to the event.

The Taplin Relay event may be conducted in three person (one swimmer, one surf board and one surf ski paddler), six person (two competitors for each water leg), or four person (one competitor per water leg plus a beach sprinter to complete the race) variations.

Cameron Relay: (Taplin relay for juniors) Teams of four competitors comprising of a surf board paddler, surf swimmer and two runners compete in this relay. The event order is water/run/water/run, and the order of water legs is drawn by ballot. 

Lifesaver Relay: conducted over a course consisting of a surf boat, a surf ski, a surf board, a swim and a beach sprint, with nine team members. The surf boat leg is always first, and the sprint leg always concludes the race. The order of the other legs is drawn by ballot. Each leg shall follow a course from the beach out to sea, rounding buoys and returning to tag the next leg competitors.

March Past: one of Surf Life Saving’s original events, representing the traditional discipline of a surf lifesaver. Teams, often dressed in full length club swimming costumes, march in formation in time to music around a set course carrying a surf reel, line and belt and following their flag bearer. Teams are judged on factors such timing, arm and leg swing, space and dressing, body carriage and presentation. 

Belt Race: The Surf Belt race involve the use of the surf reel, line and belt and is one of the most prestigious and traditional races in surf lifesaving competition. The event begins on the beach with the swimmer placing the belt around their waist and towing a surf line out to their allocated buoy and signalling their finish. The Belt swimmer is assisted by three linesman and a reel handler.

IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition aims to improve the skills and technique of IRB drivers and crew as well as allow crews to demonstrate their techniques and abilities to perform rescues.

There are five events in IRB competition.

IRB Rescue: teams are comprised of one patient, one driver, and one crew member. The patient is in the water at a designated buoy, the driver and crew member are at the starting line at the on the beach. On the starter’s signal, competitors launch the IRB, proceed through the surf to pick up the patient, round the buoy, and return to shore.

IRB Team Rescue: teams are comprised of one patient and two crews (one driver and one crew member per crew). On the starter’s signal, the first crew launches the IRB and proceeds through the surf to the patient. As the IRB rounds the buoy, the first crew member jumps overboard. The driver completes the buoy turn and returns to shore alone.

The second crew member moves into the water, and takes control of the IRB. The first driver runs up the beach and tags the second driver. The second crew re-launches the IRB, proceeds through the surf to pick up the patient and the first crew member, rounds their buoy, and returns to shore to finish the event.

Mass Rescue: teams are comprised of one driver, one crew member and two patients. Both patients start the event in the water. The crew proceed through the surf, pick up their first patient and return to shore. The driver and the patient must exit the IRB where the patient retires to the beach. The driver proceeds to the start/finish line, rounds a marker and returns to the IRB. The IRB is re-launched and the crew rescues the second patient, returns to the beach and across the finish line.

IRB Rescue – Tube Rescue:  teams are comprised of one patient, one driver, and one crew member.

On the starter’s signal, competitors launch the IRB, proceed through the surf and turn around their respective turning buoy. The crew member then enters the water and swims past the turning buoy to their patients. The crew member secures the rescue tube around the arms of the patient and tows the patient back to the IRB. Once the crew member and patient are safely aboard, the driver navigates the IRB around the team’s turning buoy and returns to shore to finish.

IRB Relay: this event is a continuous relay involving the four events in the following order: Rescue Tube, Mass Rescue, Teams Rescue and Rescue. Each leg is per the description above except for changeovers between legs. 

Rescue Tube Race: the rescue tube race is contested on the same course as the belt race. Competitors run up the beach to collect their rescue tube, turn and race to the water and swim to their allocated buoy to signal their finish of the race.

Rescue Tube Rescue: this event features four team members: a patient, a rescue tube swimmer and two assisters. The patient swims to their allocated buoy and signals back to the beach. The rescue tube swimmer then swims to rescue the patient with the assistance of swimming fins and a rescue tube. Upon arrival at the buoy the rescue tube swimmer harnesses the patient into the tube and swims back to the beach. As the rescue tube swimmer and patient approach the shore the two rescuers enter the water to assist in getting the patient across the finish line.

The event can be also contested as a two-person event, without the assisters.

First Aid: this competition involves two team members having to respond to a simulated accident scenario within a set period of time which varies depending on the age group. The scenarios incorporate props and volunteers who play the part of accident victims. Teams are required to examine the victims, provide a diagnosis and then provide treatment using materials from their first aid kits. Teams are assessed against a set criteria and awarded points depending on how they perform against the criteria.

Champion Lifesaver: this event provides an individual the competitive opportunity to demonstrate the physical and mental skills required to be a surf lifesaver, including a surf lifesaving question paper, resuscitation, surf race, surf board race, beach sprint and a rescue tube race.

Champion Patrol: this event includes a surf teams race, a board/tube rescue relay race, a 20 question theory paper, and simulated first aid and CPR scenarios. Champion Patrol aims to demonstrate how surf lifesavers work as a team in performing some or all skills associated with surf rescue patrol work. 

Rescue and Resuscitation (R&R): a competition based on the simulated rescue and resuscitation of a patient from the surf using traditional techniques: belt and reel. It combines swimming, resuscitation skills, marching and drill with teams judged against set criteria. Competitors are assessed and marked on their performance through the whole competition.

Obstacle Swim: competitors swim freestyle a total of 200 metres, passing under eight immersed obstacles. 100m metres, passing under four immersed obstacles for U11-U13.

Obstacle Relay: four team members swim freestyle 50 metres, passing under two immersed obstacles.

Line Throw: a timed event where the competitor throws an unweighted line to a team member in the pool and then pulls him/her 12 metres back to the poolside. 10 metres for U11-U13.

Freestyle with Fins: with a dive entry, competitors swim 50 metres freestyle with fins.

Patient Tow (Juniors): with a dive entry, the rescuer swims 50 metres freestyle with fins and rescue tube, where their patient is waiting. The rescuer secures the rescue tube around the patient and both return to the start.

Manikin Tow (Seniors): a competitor swims 50 metres freestyle with fins towing a rescue tube. At the tuning edge of the pool the rescue tube is placed around a floating manikin and is towed back 50 metres to the finish line.

Rescue Medley (Seniors): this event involves swimming 50 metres in freestyle, turning and swimming underwater 17.5m metres to a submerged manikin. After recovering the manikin it is carried to the finish edge of the pool.

Manikin Carry (Seniors): a competitor swims freestyle for 25 metres then dives to recover a submerged manikin and then carries it to the finish edge of the pool.

Brick Carry (Juniors): with a dive start, competitors swim 35 metres freestyle and then dives to recover a submerged rubber brick to the surface within 5 metres of the pick-up line. The competitor then carries the rubber brick to touch the finish edge of the pool.

Brick Carry Relay (Juniors): a relay of four competitors each swimming 25 metres while carrying a rubber brick.

Manikin Relay (Seniors):  a relay of four competitors each swimming 25 metres while carrying a manikin.

Medley Relay: a team event involving four legs: 50 metre freestyle without fins, 50 metre freestyle with fins, 50 metre freestyle towing a rescue tube without fins, 50 metre freestyle with fins towing a team member to the finish edge of the pool.

Super Lifesaver (Seniors): competitors swim 75 metres freestyle to recover a submerged manikin, and continue carrying the manikin 25 metres to the turning edge. The manikin is released, fins are put on and the competitor tows a rescue tube 50 metres. At the pool turning edge, the rescue tube is placed around a floating manikin which is towed to the finish end of the pool.

Board riding is, in essence, competitive surfing. Competitions are conducted in two categories.

Short Boards (less than 2.74 meters long)

The short board competition is judged on the rider’s style and ability to make full use of the wave and their performance in wave selection in terms of quality and size. Also taken into account is the rider’s ability to spend the longest time at the fastest speed and use of as many manoeuvres as possible.

Long boards (minimum 2.74m long)

The long board competition is based on the rider’s ability to execute to the maximum degree a combination of traditional and modern manoeuvres with control being the major factor. Total use of the entire length of the board is required.

Our club is a voluntary organisation that provides a community service by patrolling Park Beach throughout the summer months. In addition to patrolling duties club members compete in a range of events designed to fine tune skills essential for patrolling our beach. Our surf lifesavers engage in regular competition and surf carnivals events which are held at Club, State, National levels.

Competitors aged from Nippers to Masters level can take part, with all disciplines developed from core lifesaving skills and techniques.

Surf life savingcompetition incorporates a huge number and variety of events.  Visit the Surf Life Saving Australia website ( for full details.  Athletes typically specialise in one event or compete in a stream of events that have similar physiological demands.  For example, beach competitors compete in beach sprints, beach flags and beach relay events – all explosive, short duration, power events lasting 5-12 seconds in duration.  “Boaties” specialise in surf boat races.  Ironman and ironwoman competitors compete in a range of events including multidiscipline events such as ironman/ironwoman events, individual events such as board, ski or swim races and team events such as board rescue and board or ski teams.

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