There would be very few surfers who had not, at some stage of their lives, rescued someone whilst surfing.
Whilst surf live savers get all the credit for patrolling our beaches and pulling people from the water in difficult, and at times treacherous situations, surfers also play an important (and less recognised) role in rescuing people at our beaches.
The ocean is no place for people who can’t swim, don’t understand the dynamics of waves and currents, or are just plain drunk.
I’ve encountered a couple who were guilty on all three accounts, and it took a member of Crowded House to help save their silly arses.
Twenty years ago, I was out surfing crappy low tide Torquay Point. It was late November and the first of the summer Easterlies were blowing on-shore, creating small waves and a strong rip that ran from in front of the clubhouse diagonally out to sea. It was like a liquid conveyor belt heading straight to Tasmania.
As the sun started to set, a young, half drunk couple ran down the beach and charged out into the ocean. It didn’t take them long to stumble into the rip and before they knew it, both were heading out to sea. Not far from where I sat waiting for waves, another surfer also saw that the couple were now in trouble, splashing around and looking very nervous.
We looked at each other, nodded towards the couple and paddled quickly towards them. Together we rescued the young couple and brought them safely back to dry land using our surfboards.
After the rescue, the other surfer and I stood at the waters edge watching the young couple stagger back up the beach. Without saying a word we looked at each other, nodded and went our separate ways.
The other surfer who helped with the rescue that day was Paul Hester, former drummer for iconic Australian band Crowded House. We caught up a few times over the years, reminisced about the rescue and had a good chat about surfing and football.
Paul passed away tragically eleven years ago. He was one of the nicest blokes I have ever met.
Written by John Foss