"That was fun as!" said Vivien Conway as she recovered from the final act of Saturday's Bay of Plenty Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Long Haul race.

The 95km race from Ohope Beach to Mount Maunganui, featuring lifeguarding challenges at stops at Matata, Pukehina, Papamoa and Omanu, was a marathon challenge for both crews and IRBs.

Conway, who had just helped haul the Mount Maunganui B team's IRB up the Mount beach to the finish line, was the only female among the 11 three-person crews.

"I"m really not sure why there were no other girls doing it," she said.


"I've not done it before, I compete in other stuff, not IRB competitions, but it's pretty casual. I did this just for fun."

Before the event, Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mark Inglis said the event wasn't for the faint-hearted and teams had to be prepared for anything.

Afterwards, he said that although one of the teams scheduled to take part had pulled out, there were still more crews than at the previous races.

"There was some great racing in excellent conditions. Numbers are growing all the time.

"It's been 95km of intense racing plus exercises replicating rescues in various scenarios."

These included a tube rescue, assembling the boat, a rescue swim and an endurance run.

The race was split into two categories, with Mairangi Bay taking out the open race, just two minutes ahead of Red Beach with Papamoa A third.

The under-21 race was won by Papamoa BBB, with another Papamoa team coming second and Omanu Young Guns third.