Rescue Water Craft Operators Award

Course Overview

The Rescue Water Craft (RWC) commonly known as a Personal Water Craft (PWC) or Jetski is specially outfitted for surf interaction and operated by experienced Surf Lifeguards. 

As the operator of a Rescue Water Craft you are responsible for the safety of your crew, the public and yourself. It is important that you understand the risks inherent in operating this type of equipment and your role in assessing and minimising risk.

The qualification has a number of theoretical and practical components such as driving in the surf, patient pick up and maritime regulations to prepare experienced Surf Lifeguards for RWC use. 

Course Information 


  • Current & active member of a SLS club 
  • Surf Lifeguard Award (refreshed) 
  • 20 years of age minimum on the first day of the introductory course.
  • Radio Communication Module or Marine VHF Radio Operators Certificate 
  • Senior Lifeguard Award - IRB Driver (refreshed)*  
  • Surf First Aid (refreshed)**
  • 400m Pool swim under 7.30 minutes 

*A minimum of 2 years from IRB Award including 2 seasons operating as a IRB driver is required (at a minimum one IRB driver refresher must have been completed in the last year) 
**An RWC Operator must hold Surf First Aid prior to attending their RWC Introduction Course

Highly recommended: Advanced Surf First Aid (refreshed) | Advanced Lifeguard Award 
Duration: Variable depending on competency of candidates 
Delivered by: SLSNZ Regions 
Who should complete it: Experienced Lifeguards who hold all the required pre-requisites and wish to develop their skills and knowledge in RWC

Candidate requirements

  • Complete the online pre-learning course
  • Attend a SLSNZ regionally endorsed facilitated RWC Introduction Course (two days)
  • Complete the RWC Operators Workbook including logged operator hours 
  • Successfully complete all components of the examination (Theory and Practical)

Online Pre-learning: The self-directed RWC online pre-learning must be completed prior to (and within 4 weeks of) attending the training session. This online course consist of 9 modules:

  1. RWC Introduction
  2. Equipment
  3. Fuel
  4. Communication
  5. Maritime Regulations
  6. RWC Set Up
  7. Basic Skills and Techniques
  8. Rescues
  9. Closedown and Operations

This can be accessed via the member portal here: and you can log in by following these steps: watch here. Once logged in, you can self-enrol by clicking on “Training Library”, then into the “Lifesaving – Powercraft” Course Category, and click on the ‘Rescue Water Craft (RWC) Pre-Learning’ “Enrol” button.

Exam Components: 

  • Theory test 
  • RWC setup and equipment 
  • Crewing the RWC 
  • RWC capsize 
  • Single person rescue 
  • Driving skills 
  • Emergency maneuvers 
  • RWC close-down 

Topics covered

  1. RWC equipment and orientation 
  2. RWC set up 
  3. Maritime regulations 
  4. Communication 
  5. General operations 
  6. Basic skills and techniques 
  7. Basic rescue techniques 
  8. Advanced skills and techniques (surf operation) 
  9. Advanced rescue techniques 
  10. RWC close-down 

RWC Policies

All the current RWC Policies can be found here


Click here, to apply to be a RWC operator. Note SLSNZ reserves the right to accept members onto the RWC programme at their discretion

Online Resources

RWC Training Manual

This Manual includes topics and content to assist a candidate to gain either their Rescue Watercraft Award. Once candidates have completed their award, the training manual should be kept by them as reference. Hard copies of this manual can be purchased via your SLSNZ region once enrolled in a regional RWC programme. 
Online Download: RWC Training Manual (updated September 2020).

RWC Candidate Workbook

This workbook has been created specifically for RWC candidates. All candidates training towards their Rescue Water Craft Award must complete this workbook.  
Online Download: RWC Candidate Workbook WRITABLE (updated September 2023)