Three new Rescue Water Craft (RWC) will be added to Surf Life Saving New Zealand's armoury thanks to a grant from the Infinity Foundation.
Originally scoped by the National Lifesaving Advisory Committee for a 2019 launch, the funding has allowed the project to be brought forward.
A number of RWC are already in operation in the Northern Region (from Raglan to the Far North) where they have helped increase the lifesaving capacity and it is expected to have a similar effect for the rest of the country as they are brought into active service over the next two seasons.
Supplied by Surf Life Saving New Zealand partner Hutchwilco, the three Spark Sea Doo Jet Skis will be trialled at events and patrol activities around the country.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand's National Lifesaving Manager Allan Mundy says the main purpose of the RWC is to extend lifeguards' reach outside of the usual patrolling area.
"The RWC are not intended to replace our Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) but to complement them. The ability to stretch our reach with these craft will hopefully add to the reduction of drowning along our coastline by enabling us to respond further away from the flags more quickly," he says.
This season, the priority is on training and operational procedures which have been developed with consultation and assistance from Surf Life Saving Northern Region, as well as Surf Life Saving Australia and the UK's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Surf Life Saving New Zealand is also working closely with Maritime New Zealand to make sure the lifeguards operating the RWC are properly trained in the craft's deployment and general operation.
It is then expected that the RWC will be operational in time for the 2017-18 season.
Regional Lifesaving Managers will be calling for expressions of interest in the New Year for lifeguards that wish to become part of the RWC squads.
The generous grant from the Infinity Foundation is helping to provide essential rescue equipment and contribute to frontline operations this summer. For more information about the Infinity Foundation, visit http://www.infinityfoundation.co.nz/
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager,
Phone 0276 488 823