Surf Rescue’s simple solution | Noosa today

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By Phil Jarratt

“Simplicity is the essence of ingenuity, despite the complexity of much of the equipment that surrounds modern life,” wrote an unknown author in the March 1921 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.

He was talking about the development of the Torpedo Buoy surf rescue device, but he could well have been referring to the push back to the future in the world a century later for the humble life tube, life buoy and other earth systems. lifesaving devices. This is particularly relevant to Noosa, where the recent TC Seth swell nearly came to life at Dolphin Point, and a group of our most respected and skilled surfers are calling for the immediate reintroduction of rescue tube stations on the rocky outcrops most dangerous used by the launch. surfers and spectators.

The Noosa Boardriders Club, which includes the best shortboarders in town, donated $1,000 to the Noosa World Surfing Reserve to start the rescue tube project, and local surf rescue authorities are currently doing their due diligence. on the proposals.

“That the tools used by beach lifeguards at sea are designed without complexity is particularly appropriate, because when man becomes an aquatic animal, he takes simplicity as the keynote; his equipment is generally nil and his dress is reduced to the conventional minimum”, wrote our unknown author a century ago.

Interestingly, just a few years before those words appeared in Popular Mechanics, John Donovan, owner of Laguna House, took simplicity as a keynote to protect his guests who wanted to swim in the waves.

From my book Place of Shadows: “While Noosa had too few surfers at the time to sponsor a lifesaving club, Donovan paid for the installation of a safety reel at the foot of the sand hill in front of his establishment , and a team from the Royal Life Saving Society came from Brisbane to carry out an educational exercise at Easter 1915.

“The single coil, and a few men who knew how to use it, seemed adequate for the job for a decade until the Cooroy-Tewantin road was widened and sealed, and by Christmas 1925 over 200 vehicles raced down the escarpment to Parkyn’s Jetty, where the launch took them downriver to try that surfing bullshit. When the numbers were even higher the following Christmas, the Shire Council felt there were now enough visitors to justify the employment of a Royal Society lifeguard to carry out patrols during the three peak days at a cost of £14.

Invented in Sydney in 1906, and still used today in life-saving surf carnivals, the belt and reel system had serious flaws but still saved countless lives until it was replaced by the rescue board and rubber duck in the 1990s. In the United States, however, rescuers remained attached to the flotation device that swam to the victim, especially after the invention of the Peterson Tube in 1932.

Preston “Pete” Peterson, 19, was already California’s top boardrider and an innovator in the design and craftsman of surfboards and lifesaving equipment for lifeguards in Santa Monica, where he worked. After his prototype tube was accepted, in 1935 Peterson produced an inflatable rescue tube with molded carabiners at one end and a 14-inch webbing at the other. He further improved his design in the late 1960s with the production of closed-cell foam rubber.

(A Noosa sidebar on the Peterson connection: By the 1960s, Pete and his Hawaiian boyfriend Barrie Algaw had become the best tandem surfers in the world, and in 1966 they won the tandem division of world titles in San Diego, alongside our very own Nat Young., who won the main event. Algaw went on to marry surfboard builder Steve Boehne, and the two became America’s top tandem team for decades, until the arrival in the last years of the century of the dynamic duo of Bobby Friedman and Anna Schisler Festival of Surfing’s World Tandem Championships in 1999, Steve and Barrie were technical advisers and Bobby and Anna were competitors Anna remained in Noosa where she is today better known as Mrs. Josh Constable.)

Australia, California and Hawaii have always led the way in surfboard design, so it’s no surprise that they’re also the three amigos of surf rescue gear, or that the design of Pete Peterson hits should be reinvented in Hawaii and now widely introduced in Australia. .

Coffs Harbor Town Council on the NSW North Coast is leading the way, as Rescue Services Team Leader Greg Hackfath told Noosa Today last week:

“I believe this project is a winner and would love to see it expand across Australia. It has been very successful in Hawaii, has expanded to the mainland United States, South Africa and , since we made our rescue tubes, Bellingen and Orange councils have installed them and Bathurst council are also studying them.We started the project after attending the World Drowning Prevention Conference in Vancouver in 2017. The Hawaiian Rescue Tube Foundation gave a presentation on the units and their success There has not been a single passerby drowned since the installation.

The Rescue Tube Foundation, which began placing public-access rescue tubes on some of Hawaii’s most dangerous beaches, such as the north shores of Oahu and Kuaui, in 2008, cites key points from the World Health Organization as a raison d’être:

• Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide.

• There are an estimated 236,000 drowning deaths worldwide each year.

• Drowning represents 7% of all injury deaths.

Their operations have now expanded across the continental United States and Canada.

According to Coffs Harbour’s Greg Hackfath, after a first trial in 2019 at Sawtell, the council agreed to expand the scheme to all LGA beaches (32 beaches, nearly 100 lifeboats).

“We have partnered with local surf lifesaving clubs, individuals and the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour. Surf clubs and individuals are champions who report theft or damage to our tubes (in three years, a tube has been stolen and a box damaged because of the ex-TC Seth). Rotary is a vital partner in the project, its members have been instrumental in raising funds and finding the champions and supporters needed to make this project a success.

Greg also stressed the importance of all authorities working together.

“In our LGA, land management on the coast is shared between the NPWS, NSW Marine Parks, NSW Regional Parks and State Parks. We have obtained the unanimous endorsement of all these authorities.

Swell events in Noosa, such as New Year’s TC Seth, create heavy work for lifeguards and surf club patrols as swimmers defy big sweeps and rips, often mistaking the strong flow for refuge safe against crashing waves. But experienced surfers who ride our most dangerous breaks on the outer bays with every swell see another clear and present danger – the growing number of novice surfers who follow the experts like lemmings as they launch themselves into dangerous whirlpools. , and the growing number of spectators who gather on the rocky ledges to watch the action up close.

That’s why the surfing community is calling for a rescue tube program. And so on.

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