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The importance of wearing a lifejacket while kite surfing on the open ocean was underscored in dramatic fashion yesterday evening after a man got into difficulty while enjoying the recreational pursuit at Illawarra’s Sandon Point.

Just before 6:30pm on Tuesday two young members of Sandon Point SLSC had just completed their board training session when they noticed a kite surfer in distress drifting approximately 500 metres offshore towards Bulli.

The young lifesavers had the presence of mind to recognise that the man was in trouble and quickly alerted fellow club members who contacted the State Operations Centre.

After learning of the incident, lifesaving assets including the Bulli and Sandon Point callout teams, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and an Illawarra Duty Officer were all tasked to respond.

Within minutes of the initial request for assistance the Bulli Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) was on the water and had managed to locate the kite surfer.

The IRB crew did have initial difficulties communicating with the 31-year-old kite surfer as he had a medical issue that made it challenging for him to hear.

Fortunately these problems were overcome and he and his craft were taken aboard and transported back to the safety of Bulli Beach where police and paramedics were waiting.

After a quick assessment he was given a clean bill of health and was keen to express his gratitude to his rescuers saying “he didn’t believe he would make it back without the prompt response from surf lifesavers.”

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce later praised the efforts of the lifesavers involved.

“This was a fantastic rescue involving multiple lifesaving assets who responded in a very short period to prevent what could have been a tragedy.

“What this incident does highlight is how important lifejackets are as had the kite surfer become separated from his craft in the high winds it would have helped keep him afloat until help arrive.

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the young Sandon Point members who realised that the kite surfer was in trouble as well as the Bulli IRB crew, both callout teams and the Duty Officer who all played their part in what was a successful outcome,” Mr Pearce said.

Beach Safety Tips

  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website

  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information

  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water

  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm

  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero Police

  • Don’t forget to be sun safe by remembering to: Slip on some protective clothing, Slop on some sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Slide on a pair of sunglasses, Seek some shade and Sip on lots of water to stay hydrated

  • For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.


Wednesday 16 January 2019