International
Lifeguards Julia Conway and Jo Parry are on a mission - not only to race inflatable rescue boats (IRBs), but to get more Kiwi women driving them. Photo: Jamie Troughton, Dscribe Media.

The Mounties on a mission in the surf

As Julia Conway hits a wave in her inflatable rescue boat, her right hand clenched and thrumming on the tiller arm and salt spray stinging her face, she’s reminded of the many reasons she’s there.

As Julia Conway hits a wave in her inflatable rescue boat, her right hand clenched and thrumming on the tiller arm and salt spray stinging her face, she’s reminded of the many reasons she’s there.

Up ahead, her crew Jo Parry leans forward, deftly trimming the IRB, as the pair navigate an incoming set of waves.

With each wave, they’re propelled into the air; there's a surge of adrenaline as the craft takes flight and the outboard motor roars.

This is the intoxicating world of IRB racing - but for Conway and Parry, it's also crucial training for their summer jobs.

That’s the initial reason they’re out there - to save lives.

This summer, Conway was the head regional lifeguard based at the Mount Maunganui club – the first female to ever hold that role. Parry, who hails from the burgeoning Pukehina club further down the Bay of Plenty coastline, is also a female head guard trail-blazer, and worked as a paid guard at the Mount too.

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