The Taplin Relay
The Taplin Relay is possibly the most prestigious and fiercely contested event in competitive Surf Life Saving. It's one of the biggest sources of inter-club rivalry, because it's the one event that every club wants to win.
The Taplin highlights the breadth and depth of a club's talent, demanding excellent all-round fitness and ability across the three major disciplines - board, ski and swim.
A Taplin team usually consists of six competitors - two swimmers, two board paddlers and two ski paddlers. However 3-person or four-person variations are also possible.
A four-person team includes one athlete for each water leg, plus one beach sprinter.
The athletes must race around their buoys and back to shore before tagging their teammate who completes the next leg. A ballot is drawn at the start of the carnival to determine the order of the legs.
Often the winning team will be the one who can best use the conditions to their advantage, for example by using rips to reach the buoys more quickly, and by successfully catching waves when returning to shore. The key is to avoid losing equipment (board or ski) on the way in and out.
This is clearly demonstrated in the top video to the right, where most of the competitors in the opening ski leg lose their surf skis in difficult conditions. This means the one athlete who successfully negotiated the break gains a huge advantage for her team.
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