Clubbie Profile September: Julien Vincent

Our Clubbie Profile for the Month of September is Julien Vincent from Coogee SLSC. At 210cm tall, the 2015 Young Lifesaver of The Year is a familiar presence on the beach throughout summer. Julien’s stature mirrors the strength of skills and experience this young lifesaver holds after more than a decade in Surf Life Saving.

During his volunteer career, Julien has evolved into a highly accomplished lifesaver across a broad range of areas from education to officiating. Above all he remains a committed clubbie.

Surf Life Saving Club: Coogee SLSC
Career Volunteer Hours: 787 hours, including patrols at Garie, Maroubra, Coogee, Tamarama and North Bondi. I have performed many more hours training as an instructor and managing equipment and first aid, being the club’s Assistant Gear Steward and Assistant First Aid Officer.
Occupation: Student at the University of New South Wales.

When did you join Surf Life Saving and why?
I started nippers in Under 9s, as my parents thought my sister and I should try it out. I will be forever thankful to my parents for enrolling me in that first day of nippers in October 2004. I got my Surf Rescue Certificate in December 2009 and went on to acquire my Bronze Medallion in January 2012. Since then, I have gained many awards, including First Aid, ARTC, Spinal, IRB Crew, Off Shore Rescue Boat (ORB) Crew, Silver Medallion IRB Driver, Silver Medallion Basic Beach Management and my Gold Medallion in March 2015. I am also an Instructor and a Level 1 Surf Sports official – perhaps one of the youngest in the state?

Why do you volunteer as a lifesaver?
Surf Life Saving has become a passion for me. I love to patrol with my mates on the beach and to be of assistance to the public, especially when I get to use my foreign language skills. I love to serve the community and feel that I am contributing to a great movement that helps prevent incidents, provide first aid treatment on the beach and even rescue people out at sea. And, of course, there is no greater thrill than to have the opportunity to be a part of support operations and play a key role as an ORB crewman.

What did it mean to you when you received the NSW Young lifesaver of the Year award for the 2014/15 season?
Winning the Young lifesaver of the Year award meant the world to me, as it reflected the years of effort, dedication and long hours I have put into lifesaving, both on the beach and out of patrolling hours. I remember breaking up in tears of joy at the Awards of Excellence evening in August.

What are your goals within Surf Life Saving?
My journey through Surf Life Saving is going ahead with great pace, and things are getting exciting for me. I would like to grow my role in education, by continuing to train Bronze Medallion and higher awards courses within my club and join the Sydney Branch assessors team by obtaining my Assessor Award soon.

I’d like to invest time in Support Operations. I recently obtained my ORB Crew certificate with the Randwick District Offshore Rescue Boat (Surf Rescue 30). I have been assigned to the Callout Team and will be involved in out-of-hours taskings this season, including night jobs. I will start training to obtain my ORB Driver Award soon. I’d like to gain my RWC certificate to drive the local Support Ski.

I will continue competing in Champion Lifesaver and in the Coogee Open Patrol Competition team, after getting my first taste of winning a medal at Aussies in April 2015 with the team – I’m sure that we can do better than Bronze next time!

Tell us about your trip to France last year, what did that involve?
I visited ex-Coogee lifesaver Florian Fessol in July 2014, who is a French lifeguard at Le Gurp Beach, on the South-West Aquitaine coast of France. As a French-Australian citizen, I am fluent in French and so I saw the opportunity to patrol in my fatherland, although Australian Surf Life Saving awards are not normally recognised by SNSM, the French national lifeguarding body.

It was an interesting experience patrolling at a nudist beach and in particular practising my mother tongue while lifeguarding. There were some points I found interesting about patrolling in France: they use a rather outdated but powerful Russian 4x4 called the “Lada” as their all-terrain vehicle where the lifeguards stand on the back of the vehicle. They continue to use surf reels and they carry flippers with them at all times but don’t always use a rescue tube for rescues. They are much more skilled in first aid treatment on the beach, which accounts for their majority of taskings.

You have achieved 100% patrol attendance for six consecutive years, what’s it like patrolling one of Sydney’s busiest beaches?
Coogee is known to be a popular beach, as it doesn’t have much surf throughout the year, as it’s sheltered by Wedding Cake Island which blocks a lot of the swell. Coogee is also infamously known for its heavy shore break.

Coogee gets very busy throughout the summer and the club benefits from 15 rotating patrols, each comprised of 20+ patrolling members, so we’re never short of members! Coogee also has five rock pools (Honeybee, Wylies, McIvers, Ross Jones and Giles) within its wide patrolling area and interesting sea life, such as the infamous blue-ringed octopus. So patrolling at Coogee is definitely different to patrolling at many other beaches!

Explain what type of work your team from the Randwick District Offshore Rescue Boat (Surf Rescue 30) is involved in?
Surf Rescue 30 is a unique volunteer lifesaving support services team that has been in operation since “the summer of ‘69”. It is crewed by dedicated surf lifesavers, whose mission is to prevent loss of life along Randwick’s spectacular but treacherous coastline – applying the teachings and philosophies of surf lifesaving beyond the beaches.

Surf Rescue 30 patrols from Yarra Bay up to North Bondi. The team provides assistance to patrols on the beach and responds to many taskings, such as fishermen in difficulty, overturned boats and search and rescues. As an ORB crewman, I may be required to provide first aid treatment to an injured patient aboard the boat and I may be required to perform rescues, including rock entries to assist injured patients on rocks. Being a member of the callout team may also see me respond to jobs out of patrolling hours and possibly even at night.

Who is someone you admire in the Surf Life Saving movement and why?
Tony Waller is someone I admire in the Surf Life Saving movement. Not only does he juggle roles as our club Governor and Leading Station Officer as a firefighter, he continues to patrol the beach and watch over us in the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter, where he has been an air rescue crewman since its humble beginnings in 1973.

Tony has even had the opportunity to work with the Los Angeles Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer in 1991. Tony and I are the only two lifesavers to have won the prestigious Patrolman of the Year Award under the age of 18: Tony in 1979 and me in 2013.

What is your best clubbie memory?
I have a fond memory of performing my first ever rescue as an SRC at the age of 13. It was a busy summer day and a mother came running down the beach and with the little English she had, she cried out for help to my patrol captain, Gary Cheer. Her son was on a bodyboard drifting out to sea by the current, north-east of our position.

Gary knew that it would take too long to launch the IRB, so he asked me to paddle over with a rescue board and see what I could do. Moments later, I reached the young boy, who had sunscreen in his eyes and who was about to go under. I reached out to him, pulled him onto my board and brought him back to the beach. He told me on the way in that he thought it’d be a good idea to try and swim in!

Favourite beach that isn’t yours?
Garie Beach in the Royal National Park. Coogee is one of many Sydney Branch clubs that assists to patrol the remote beach, which has a very low number of patrolling members. Surrounded by the beautiful Australian Bush, Garie is free of the large crowds we have at Coogee and has great surf. It is a great weekend away with mates from the club and great fun sleeping over at the club. I definitely recommend it to other lifesavers!

Anything else you would like to add…
I am very blessed to have come this far in Surf Life Saving and it would not have been possible without the great support from fellow surf lifesavers from Coogee SLSC, Sydney Branch, the Surf Rescue 30 team and the wider movement. Surf Life Saving is an incredible movement that has changed my life in so many positive ways. It has provided me the thrilling opportunity to drive an IRB, to lead a team as patrol captain and to compete at Aussies, among so many other possibilities that are out there. Just about anybody can become a surf lifesaver and I strongly recommend joining the movement!


Top: Julien receiving the Young Lifesaver of the Year award at the 2014/15 Awards of Excellence.
Middle: Julien enjoying his time on patrol at Coogee SLSC.
Bottom: Julien and his Surf Rescue 30 crew after they passed their exam.

Wed 30 Sep 2015