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The efforts of two Shelly Beach surf lifesavers to go to the aid of a stranded stand up paddle boarder on the state’s Central Coast has been recognised with the Surf Life Saving NSW Rescue of the Month Award for July/August.

It was fortunate for the paddle boarder that Stephen Shearer and Paul Dowdell arrived at the club early on Saturday 23 July to begin preparing Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) for a crew training course.

In the bright early sunshine the two men were keeping an eye on the conditions which were developing into a solid 2-3 metre swell, and knowing that a hazardous surf warning was in place, they discussed their plans to do some inshore training runs.

“We were out and about early and had just finished preparing the IRB for a training course we were running,” said Paul Dowdell.

“A lot of club members like to hang around in the café getting breakfast, and one of them alerted us that a paddle boarder had come of his board. Within minutes the IRB was ready to go thanks to the assistance of Brad Glover and Ben Dugan. I grabbed Stephen who was the most experienced driver present, and another driver as crew man and we raced to the scene.”

With the lifesavers safely aboard the IRB it became an exercise in patience as they negotiated the large set waves and located the now tiring surfer, who was edging closer to the surf zone approximately 100 metres offshore.

Stephen was able to grab hold of the man while Paul continued to move the IRB safely beyond the break so the surfer could be retrieved into the craft. Though he was fatigued from the exertion of his unplanned swim, the paddle boarder was otherwise okay and expressed his gratitude to his rescuers.

“It wasn’t ideal conditions for a duck, and it’s certainly one of the most challenging rescues I’ve been involved in,” Paul Dowdell later recounted.

The modest surf lifesaver was keen to play down his efforts in the successful rescue, but did concede earning state recognition was a reason to celebrate for the small club.

“It’s an honour to receive this recognition as it is a big deal for the club. We are very proud of our members and the quality of lifesavers we consistently produce, and it’s a reward for all the training that everyone at the club does.

“At the end of the day, I am just glad we were in the right place at right time and able to do our part to perform this rescue,” he concluded.

The SLSNSW Rescue of the Month is a prestigious award that recognises excellence in Surf Life Saving. Each month a ‘Rescue of the Month’ is awarded at State level for the most outstanding rescue performance for that period. Monthly winners are eligible for the National Rescue of the Month, and are also in line to be named the NSW Rescue of the Year which is announced at the season-ending Awards of Excellence

For official citations and past recipients please visit the Rescue of the Month page.


Thursday 28 September 2017