A dramatic rescue at Mt Maunganui has won a regional surf lifesaving award after a surfer was saved from a rip that had kept lifeguards on their toes all day.
Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand selects a winning rescue from each region as well as an overall national winner for the title of BP Rescue of the Month. Lifeguards from Mount Maunganui Surf Life Saving Club have won the Eastern Region Rescue of the Month award for March.
During a busy Saturday at Mount Maunganui, as the State New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships were taking place, a surfer had got himself into trouble in a rip that had been keeping lifeguards extremely busy all day.
Lifeguards were alerted shortly before 8pm about the male surfer who was being swept out past Leisure (Moturiki) Island. He was signalling to people on the island that he needed help.
Big surf had resulted in numerous rescues throughout the day's patrol. Patrol captain Kent Jarman had been catching up with friends on the surf club deck and was getting ready to go home while Julien Lalanne, who had been competing all day, was relaxing after dinner.
Dusk was falling fast as Kent and Julien reacted quickly and launched the IRB from the island end of the main beach. They had been searching for about 10 minutes with the help of people on the island, pointing out the surfer's location. The surfer was spotted 300 meters off the end of the island. He was picked up and returned to the beach near the surf club. By this stage, it was pitch black.
The surfer was very cold as he had been surfing only in board shorts. He was put under a warm shower and then taken to the first aid room where he was wrapped in blankets and he quickly recovered.
Kent and Julien's advanced IRB and search skills were crucial to the quick resolution of this rescue. The response time was around four minutes from receiving the call to the IRB being launched.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand chairman Michael Bassett-Foss says the extraordinary efforts shown by the Lifeguards was outstanding. "Admiration of the skill and professionalism shown by those involved in the incident is testament to qualities valued by Surf Life Saving New Zealand and BP," he says.
Nominations for the period ending April 30 will be announced on May 10.