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Graham Boys Are Standing Guard

By Duncan Horscroft on October 31, 2012 in News

Photo: James Hutton

You’d be pretty hard pressed finding two brothers more at home in the ocean than Aaron and Kobi Graham.

The Bronte siblings have grown up with the water lapping at their doorstep and their old man, Bronte Surf Club larrikin Warren ‘Bluey’ Graham, taught them to surf practically before they could walk.

As Waverley lifeguards, the pair has seen the surf from all sides. As well as taking advantage of the many great waves on offer they have also had to face thundering conditions to save the lives of those less experienced than themselves as well as administer first aid and life saving resuscitation.

Now they have combined their talents as extreme watermen and vast medical knowledge to form the unique service known as Pro Guarding.

“I first got the idea when I was working with Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones as a water safety officer for an episode of Storm Surfers at the notorious break of Pedra Blanca in Tasmania,” Kobi said.

“In places like that you have to be on top of your game and be able to react to any situation that can arise in such dangerous conditions.

“It was amazing sitting out in the middle of nowhere watching these massive sets just loom out of nowhere and having to keep an eye on the surfers and be ready on the jet-ski if they came unstuck.”

Kobi said the idea of doing that sort of job full-time appealed to him because he had a natural feel for it and had earned the trust of two of the best surfers in the world.

He said one of the highlights was when they turned around and said it was his turn to catch a wave.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Kobi said. “Here I was sitting on a jet ski at one of the most infamous breaks in the world and the guys are yelling at me to grab a board and have a go.”

That “go” earned him a nomination at the 2009 Oakley Big Wave Awards.

Another powerful factor in his decision to form the business was the knowledge of how important it is to react immediately in an emergency.

In this case it was Kobi who was the victim. In June 2010 he was surfing the notorious ‘Ours’ break south of Sydney when he wiped out on a giant slab, slamming his head into the shallow reef and breaking his neck.

“Mate, I saw my life flash before my eyes that day,” he said. “I was lucky enough to know what had happened and when the guys came to grab me I told them what to do.”

“I was very lucky my mates were there to help and that the damage wasn’t permanent.

“That incident also helped convince me of a need for a service that could not only provide transport in the water but also have top level first aid knowledge to help out in any critical situation.

“When I spoke to Azza (brother Aaron) about starting the business he was more than keen to join me in the venture.

A few sponsors have also seen an opportunity to support the brothers, with companies such as Patagonia getting on board to provide Pro Guarding with wetsuits and other cold water accessories.

Earlier this year the boys provided water transport during the filming of ‘The Grandmothers’, starring Naomi Watts, at Seal Rocks.

“The guys from Pro Guarding were employed as the on-set medical team and the water safety team,” movie stunt co-ordinator Dean Gould said.

“Their equipment never faulted and their water expertise was outstanding. I have worked in the film industry for over 20 years and I would have no hesitation in using and recommending the team. They definitely helped the crew to feel safe and cared for.”

With raps like that from one of the best in the business it shouldn’t be too long before the boys become stars in their own right.

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