Sunset Beach volunteers claim third place for rescue of teenagers

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Some of the volunteer Surf Lifeguards from Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service involved in rescuing seven teenage swimmers.

Surf Lifeguards who were packing up after a day of patrolling and rescued seven teenage swimmers in serious danger are being recognised for their efforts.

Volunteers from Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service have earnt third place in February’s BP Rescue of the Month competition.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand invites clubs to submit their rescues to be judged for the title of BP Rescue of the Month, which acknowledges operational excellence by Surf Lifeguards around the country.

Sunset Beach Chief Instructor and Junior Surf Co-Ordinator Joanne Hobson says it was 5.05pm on February 16 and the volunteers had finished their patrol and were packing up their gear when they spotted the seven swimmers in danger.

“A flash rip occurred taking the swimmers by surprise which then saw them heading towards the rock formation known as Horseshoe.”

Surf Lifeguard Jane Griffiths was sent out with a tube and fins while fellow Surf Lifeguard Jack Morgan grabbed a rescue board and paddled out to the group.

An IRB (inflatable rescue boat) was also launched by Jack Avery and Mikey Waldegrave.

Lifeguards Jack Morgan and Jane were first to reach the group and calmed, reassured and kept the group of teenagers afloat until the IRB arrived.

“The situation became more serious as the group started to drift closer to the rocks,” Joanne says.

The IRB arrived and Jack Avery pulled two patients aboard whilst Mikey assisted a third into the boat.

Jack Avery then drove to shore and dropped them off to Surf Lifeguards waiting on the beach.

The IRB went back out, and pulled two more teenagers into the boat whilst the remaining two were swum back to shore by Jack Morgan and Jane.

The seven patients were assessed by the Surf Lifeguards.

“They were shaken by the experience and showed signs of exhaustion after swimming against the rip,” Joanne says.

“Had it not been for the quick actions of all these lifeguards it could have turned out a lot differently. The teenagers were visitors to the beach and were inexperienced in surf conditions.”

She says that was the second after-hours mass rescue Sunset Beach volunteers had carried out that month.

Joanne says the volunteers did extremely well.

“The communication from the Patrol Captain to delegate tasks was precise and quick, the equipment was retrieved easily, the management of assets, people and gear on the beach was a slick operation and the first aid follow ups were thorough.”

The Sunset Beach Surf Lifeguards involved in the rescue will be recognised with $200 worth of BP gift vouchers for their club. 

“BP is incredibly proud to have partnered with Surf Life Saving New Zealand since 1968,” BP NZ Managing Director Debi Boffa says.

“We are continually impressed by the incredible skills and bravery of Surf Lifeguards all over the country, and this rescue is another great example of the heroism they show in keeping us safe at the beach.”

Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services and Surf Life Saving Kariaotahi 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 New Zealand
021 757 433