Mangawhai Heads volunteers claim third place in national Surf Life Saving award

Friday, 20 December 2019

Photo: Nick Murray/NZ Herald

The May 2019 rescue of three boaties in difficulty at Mangawhai Heads has claimed third place in Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s BP Rescue of the Month competition.

The charity invites clubs to submit their rescues to be judged for the title of BP Rescue of the Month which aim to recognise operational excellence by Surf Lifeguards around the country.

Members of Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service were called on at around 9.15am on May 5, 2019, after a 7m vessel overturned on the Mangawhai Heads bar as it was exiting the harbour to go fishing.

With sea conditions in the 1.5m - 2m range the vessel took a number of waves bow on before overturning and throwing the three passengers into large waves and a treacherous out-flowing tidal current.

A local surfer who witnessed the incident from the beach called 111, activating the Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service Call Out Squad, who arrived shortly after, and quickly launched an IRB (inflatable rescue boat) with three lifeguards on board.

Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service club president Jon Drucker says fortunately, a local surfer had picked up one of the boaties on his surfboard as he was being swept out to sea in the tidal current.

The other two boaties were clinging to the overturned vessel.

The IRB collected the three boaties and returned them safely to shore, where they were treated at the Surf Club and later released.

As the patients were being brought to shore, a lifeguard went to the submerged vessel on a rescue paddleboard to provide scene safety 'traffic control' and warn other boaties who were considering crossing the bar.

The crew on a second IRB cleared the channel of any dangerous flotsam and the submerged boat.

Once the channel was cleared, the IRB righted the boat and returned it to the harbour boat ramp.

Mr Drucker says none of the boaties were wearing life jackets, so they are very lucky to be alive.

Surf Life Saving NZ encourages fishermen and women to follow the advice of Coastguard New Zealand and Maritime NZ when it comes to wearing lifejackets.  

Lifejackets are essential for all recreational activities on the water. Take them and wear them – lifejackets are a key piece of safety equipment. It’s important to make sure the lifejacket you wear is fit-for-purpose and safe.

For their efforts, the Surf Lifeguards will receive a $200 BP gift voucher for their club.

“BP has been in partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for 51 years and we are incredibly proud to support their heroic efforts in keeping New Zealanders safe,” BP NZ Managing Director Debi Boffa says.

“This rescue is yet another example of the huge difference Surf Life Guards make on beaches all over the country.”

Kariaotahi Surf Lifesaving Club and Piha Surf Life Saving Club will receive $500 and $300 BP gift cards respectively as BP Rescue of the Month first and second place getters.



For more information, please contact:
Melanie Louden
Media and Communications Manager
Surf Life Saving NZ
021 757 433