Surf Sports Competition and Training

What are Surf Sports?

Surf Sports, representing some of the oldest traditions in Surf Life Saving has a long history at Bondi Surf Club. In 1915, the first Australian Surf Titles took place at Bondi Beach. Only two events were recognised at those championships; the open surf race and the open six-person R&R. Bondi won both events. At the 2015 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, Bondi’s 5-man R&R team won the gold medal, making us the only club to win events at both the first and 100th centenary championships.

Whether you aspire to be a more competent Lifesaver or represent your State or Country, Surf Sports at Bondi has pathways to help you achieve your goals.

We have coaches in all Surf Sports disciplines and hold regular training sessions. We cater for members from age 14 to Masters (30 years and over).

The Bondi Surf Sports Team regularly participates at local, state, national, and world championships.

Our Mission:

To be an encouraging and inclusive surf sports program that provides training to improve skills for both lifesaving and competition for members of all ages.

Surf Sports disciplines:

  • Beach
  • Craft
  • IRB
  • R&R
  • Surfboats
  • Swim

To compete in Surf Sports you must hold a Surf Bronze Medallion.

For more about Surf Sports, please email:

See you on the beach!


Beach events are held on the sand and include events such as:

  • Beach sprint – competitors race on a straight sand course of approximately 70 – 90metres to the finishing line.
  • Beach relay – teams of 4 competitors race on a straight sand course of approximately 70 – 90metres with a baton, running one lap each. The final runner of a team over the finish line wins.
  • Beach flags – competitors start lying on their stomach facing away from a baton/s buried in the sand approximately 15 – 20metres away. There is always less 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.
  • 2km Beach run – competitors race on a sand course in four laps of 500metres to total approximately 2km.


Surf Craft Race Bondi Surf Life Saving Club

Board and Ski events include:

  • Single Surf Ski Race – 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.
  • Double Surf Ski Races – from a floating start, competitors (two per ski) paddle their ski around three buoys and return to the finish line. The finish is judged when any part of the ski crosses the finish line with both team members and at least one paddle in contact with the ski.
  • Surf Board Races – from the beach (standing start) each competitor enters the water with their surf 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.
  • Surf Board / Surf Ski Relay – teams of three competitors compete in a relay format over a course similar to the respective individual races. After rounding the buoys and returning to the beach the first competitor runs around two turning flags to tag the second competitor. The second competitor then completes the course and tags the final competitor. The race finishes when the final competitor rounds all buoys, returns to the beach and runs to the finish line.

Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB)

IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition aims to:

  • Improve the skills and technique of IRB drivers and crew.
  • Allow crews to demonstrate their techniques and abilities to perform rescues.
  • Bring crews together to discuss and improve IRB techniques and operations.
  • Promote safety awareness techniques for the crew and patients in simulated rescue scenarios.

There are five events in IRB competition:

  • IRB Rescue: Single Patient Rescue with one IRB
  • IRB Rescue – Tube Rescue Single patient rescue utilising the tube and one IRB.
  • IRB Team Rescue: Two IRB's work together to save a patient that was thrown from one boat.
  • Mass Rescue: Multiple Patient Rescue (two patients) with one IRB
  • IRB Relay: This event is a continuous relay involving the four events detailed above in the following order: Rescue Tube, Mass Rescue, Teams Rescue and Rescue. Each leg shall be as per the individual event descriptions except for changeovers between legs. The finish shall be following the completion of the Rescue (fourth) leg of the race.

Rescue & Resuscitation (R&R)

The Rescue and Resuscitation (R&R) competition provides the opportunity for SLSA members to demonstrate in a competitive manner some traditional rescue and resuscitation techniques used in Surf Life Saving.

Surf Boats

A boat crew shall consist of five competitors, four of whom shall be “rowers” and a “sweep” who controls the boat by use of a sweep oar and commands to the rowers.

Boat crews start at the water’s edge holding their boats ready. On the starting signal, crews row around their assigned turning buoy situated approx 400metres off shore and return to the beach. The winner is the first crew to pass their boat between the finish flags on the beach.


Dori Miller completing the Stan Mac

Swimming ability is a prime factor in surf lifesaving. SLSA Swimming events have been designed to encourage members to keep fit for lifesaving duties. Events include:

  • Surf Race – the Surf Race involves swimmers starting on the beach and then running, wading and swimming about 170metres to sea to round as set of buoys and then return to the beach. The event concludes with a run finish to the flags placed on the beach.
  • Belt Race– the Surf Belt race involves 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 linesmen and a reel handler.
  • Rescue Tube Rescue race (four person) – the rescue tube rescue event features four team members: a patient, a rescue tube swimmer and two rescuers/assisters. The event commences with the patient swimming to their allocated buoy and signalling 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 tubes 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.
  • Rescue Tube Race (two person) – the two person rescue tube race is similar to the 4 person rescue tube rescue race except without the assistance of the two rescuers. The patient swims out to the buoy, signals the rescue tube swimmer who then swims out (with the assistance of fins), collects the patient and swim them back to the finish line on the beach.
  • Rescue Tube Race – the rescue tube race is contested on the same course as the surf belt race. When the race commences the competitors must 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.
  • Run-Swim-Run – this event is run across a normal swimming course with the competitors commencing the race by running approximately 200metres to round a flag on the beach before embarking on a swim around a set of buoys and then back to the beach. Once the competitors complete the swim leg they must then run around the same flag as the start of the race and sprint to the finish.
  • Wading Race – the wade race is a popular amongst younger athletes and involves running out to an allocated a turning mark at knee depth water and then the competitors may either wade, dive or swim along the beach to another marker before returning to the beach to run to the finish line.
  • Wading Relay – the wading relay is a four person event where competitors complete the wade race one at a time and tag the next person who then continues on. The race is completed once the fourth and final team member finishes the wading course and runs up the beach to the finish line.

Surf, run-swim-run and the wading races are direct tests of physical ability in and around the surf environment, whereas the Belt, Rescue Tube Rescue and the Rescue Tube races are “simulated” races