Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service IRB crew trainees graduated last weekend

Lifesavers have a ‘safe surf season’

by Paul Campbell

It has been qualifying time for lifeguards training during the summer at the Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service with 12 graduating last weekend, another eight due to receive awards next weekend and others qualifying as IRB crewmen.

“It’s been busy on the club front, and we have had huge numbers of people on the beach during the holidays,” said club instructor Jess Costello.

“It has been a very safe summer, and we have had a good number of members on patrol. Perhaps a few close calls for boaties out on the bar, but no major incidents. The weather — has been hot!”

Club members have been called on to carry out a number of first aid services.

“The club has rostered more than 1,000 hours on patrol. These will continue, with the expectation that surf conditions may become more active as weather patterns change in the Pacific as summer goes on.

Club president John Drucker says cyclone seas swell and large surf “has a tendency to reconfigure the sandy ocean bottom, which can expose rocks and cause holes making rip currents stronger and more prevalent. We ask that beachgoers continue to swim between the flags, follow lifeguard directions, and do not overestimate their abilities or swim alone.”

Mr Drucker also wanted to “recognise all the local merchants and businesses that continually support our lifesaving efforts.”

Along with their peers from surf clubs around the country, Mangawhai club members will be eyeing the 2020 New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships from March 12 to 15 in Gisborne.

Then more than 1,500 athletes are expected to show their skills, from Masters who have lost track of the number of nationals events they have attended to 15-year-olds experiencing the event for the first time.

The nationals cater to all levels of participation and almost all aspects of surf life saving disciplines with New Zealand representatives, canoes, surf boat crews, surf swimmers, beach sprinters, ski and board paddlers all seeking a title.