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Time To Re-Think Surf Lifesaving

By Marty from Bronte on February 21, 2011 in News

I’m usually not one for jumping up and down about anything, but I feel compelled to share the events of February 5 evening with you. It was a scorching hot Saturday, perhaps the hottest day of summer so far, and the lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers had long left the beaches for the day. Myself and a few buddies had walked down to Bronte for a quick surf at about 7:30pm to get in the water for the last half an hour of daylight. Being such a hot day, there were still at least 200 people on the sand and in the water swimming and enjoying the evening, and had there been any lifesavers still on duty I’m sure they would have been busily ushering people further north away from the permanent rip at the south end of the beach.

It appeared to me that most of the people down there weren’t locals and were perhaps on their annual trip to the beach to try and escape the heat of the Western Suburbs. With my buddies included there were about eight of us surfing at 7:45pm, when all of a sudden we heard a few loud calls for help. A couple had been dragged out in the rip, and although they looked like they could swim okay, they were helpless to fight against the current. A couple of guys paddled over to grab the lady while myself and a mate went to grab the guy and put them on our boards for the (quite lengthy) return to the beach via a quick paddle north out of the rip.

No sooner had we got them into knee-deep water there was another guy on his way out in the rip calling for help, and then an older group of four, and then a man with his two sons on boogie boards. The group of eight surfers who just happened to be out there in the water at that time dragged 10 people out of the water on our boards in less than half an hour.

I’ve surfed my entire life, and I’ve dragged lots of people out of the water on my board over the years, but this was the first time that I really felt like if we weren’t there some of these people would definitely have drowned. Finding yourself 100 metres from the beach, heading further out and around towards Clovelly as it is getting dark is not a good situation to be in. That’s what would have happened had there been no surfers in the water at the time.

Either the council should pay the pros in the blue shirts to hang around until dark on these hot summer evenings, or the volunteers should make some kind of provision to have the beach covered for longer. It pisses me off to see dozens of yellow shirt volunteers down at North Bondi (which doesn’t even get serious rips) in the middle of the day when the waves are 2 foot thinking they are saving the planet and providing some huge service, when if they were really serious about saving lives and making a difference they would have been down there at Bronte keeping people out of that rip after the pros had finished for the day.

It’s not easy saving someone who is in a panic on a normal surfboard – I’d rather not have to do it again.


  1. Hear hear! the lifesavers are a joke, the lifeguards do all the real work

    Posted by: Bronte Bill | February 21, 2011, 4:58 PM |

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  2. If this author has such an issue with the services provided to keep the beach safe, maybe instead of spending his weekends surfing and socialising, he gets down to his local lifesaving club and volunteer to do some UNPAID service. Before insulting the work of the lifesavers, or the lifeguards for that matter, try and think about the fact that its just unreasonable to expect the beaches to be manned 24/7. On that exceptionally hot Saturday I was doing a patrol on one of the beaches in the Eastern Suburbs and we were asked to stay back 1 hour due to crowds, so even though myself and many others had our own Saturday night social plans we set them back an hour to stay on. Gee I would have loved to be out just having a surf. Why don’t you think about giving back, before giving advise!

    Posted by: Volunteer Surf Lifesaver | February 21, 2011, 8:23 PM |

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  3. Holy shit – could you possibly come across as a bigger wanker, ‘Marty’? You think the unpaid volunteer surf lifesavers who give up their weekends to ensure the safety of the beach going public should carry on overnight just because they inconvenienced your bone-idle arse and your surfing session? You seem like such a sympathetic sort of a dude, next time, just let the stupid tourists die mate – we wouldn’t want to interrupt you from ripping up some sick waves. It’s arseholes like you that make every red and yellow volunteer wonder why they bother. Maybe if you had a family friend flushed out to sea and plucked to safety by them you’d see things differently.

    And as for the boys in blue? They’re too busy tweeting mate and when they end their well paid shift, they’re off out the door and down to Bondi Junction to get a pedicure and a back rub.

    Posted by: Unpaid Volunteer Surf Lifesaver | February 22, 2011, 5:40 PM |

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